Survival Knife Options

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: Another guest contribution from Jim Watson to The Prepper Journal.  As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share then enter the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.

“If nothing else, give me a knife,” the man said showing me his fixed blade knife. It was dark and terrible looking. The blade looked sharp and the knife well kept. He offered it up to me, but I thought it foolish to fondle another man’s knife. It would only make me either jealous of his or arrogant of my own.

We were standing in front of about 200 knives at PrepperCon 2018. We got on the subject of surviving the Rockies in the spring weather that we were experiencing. While the elevation and the weather could make it hard enough there were creatures like rattlesnakes in those mountains as well.

I ran into one the day after, who was generous enough to give me a warning and not a dose of his finest venom.

Beyond that, the conversation got me thinking. A knife is not a knife is not a knife.

Honest about Aesthetics

At PrepperCon, as you would imagine, I saw all manners of knives. There are a ton of knives on the market that are marketed to preppers and survivalists as well as outdoorsman. Some of these types are great additions to your kit and others are just something that you like having.

I have no problem with people buying crazy knives that latch to your forearm and have numerous protruding blades. All I can say is, don’t take that thing into the woods and expect to split wood and carve with it.

Some knives are simpler and some are works of art but might not fit the bill for a survival blade either. I wanted to take this time to go over some types of survival knife blades and how they affect survival. Some are certainly better than others.

Two-Sided Spear Point

The two-sided spear point is not something you see often when seeking out survival knives. That is for good reason. While these knife blades are good for fighting the two-sided blade is more likely to hurt you than help you in survival tasks. You will invariably wind up with one side that is blunted and one that is sharper.

The very worst aspect of this style of knife blade is that the risk for injury with these double-edged weapons is very high. If you are in a real survival situation a minor cut from a dirty blade is something to concern yourself with. Infection and that could be a big problem

Where a two-sided spear point would come in very handy is, well, in affixing it to create a spear for survival hunting.

Tanto

Another fighting knife blade, essentially, the tanto is a better option than the two-sided spear point in terms of survival. The thickness and the strength of the tanto is what makes it stand out in survival. It also has a flat edge which is vital for a survival knife.

One of my biggest pet peeves regarding the tanto is the sharpening of the blade. Its not hard at home with a good stone but it’s a dual edged blade that I just don’t want to deal with in a survival scenario.

Of course, the tanto is a looker. There may be no knife as beautiful to look at as a quality made Damascus style tanto blade. Because these are such lookers many people pick them up. I will be honest, its not the worst blade to have on hand in a survival situation.

Clip Point or Bowie Knife

We have all seen those massive Bowie knives like something out of the movie Crocodile Dundee. Look, I get it, a big knife can make some things better. In a survival situation it could also be used as a deterrent.  There is real value in that.

Still, the clip point or bowie knife can pose some great benefits in survival as well as some serious weak points. I think this blade style comes down to your survival philosophy. Are traveling tool heavy or are you forcing your knife to bear the weight?

The clip point can be magic for things like processing animals or carving tasks. It can also snap off if you apply too much pressure. I wouldn’t be heart broken to find myself in the woods with a clip point knife, but it wouldn’t be my first choice.

Drop Point Blades

For me, and many others, there is nothing like a nice exaggerated drop point blade for survival. The drop point blade is one long sloping blade that ends in a point at the top of the spine on the knife. The other benefit is the flat back of the drop point blade. There is no curve like in a clip point.

Now, there are levels to everything and if you want to maximize the drop point blade, look for the following:

  • Thick spine that offers a 90 degree edge

This is great for a number of tasks like shredding fibers for tinder and sparking your ferro rod.

  • Wide and thick blade

You may as a lot of your blade and I have seen knives snap. That is a tough situation that you do not want to find yourself in. Instead, look to nice thick blade. This wide curve also helps when skinning animals or fish.

  • Comfortable handle

The amount of time you use your knife comes down to how easy you can access it and what it feels like in your hands. Choose a knife with a well made handle. Look into G10 grips if you do not want cheap plastics or if you do not favor a wooden handle.

Your Next Choice for a Survival Knife

Now that you are armed with this knowledge you can start your own search for the best survival knife for you. Remember, this article is about finding the best knife for you and not for me. Your knife should be about accomplishing the tasks that you need it to, not satisfying the ego of the survivalist’s community.

Will it be a tanto blade with that great look and strength, will it be the big old bowie knife or will you go the route of most survivalists and grab a drop point blade that is built for bushcraft and wilderness survival? Enjoy the hunt and find something great. Feel free to leave comments below if you find something exceptional. Let us know about it!

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7 Ways To Signal For Help In The Wilderness

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: An article from down-under thanks to Kelli Warner. I have been fortunate enough to have visited Australia on several occasions, business and pleasure and would return in a heartbeat. I was also foolish enough to sit down with a group Australian Armed forces personnel in a bar, they have no concept of moderation. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, then enter today!

Getting lost or stranded in the wilderness can quickly turn into a life-threatening situation. This means that you want to get out of there as fast as you can. However, sometimes you might not know where to go, or be in a really remote location. Wilderness survival signals are really important if you plan on being in the woods a lot, or even if you go boating, hiking, or mountaineering too. Let’s talk about 7 Ways To Signal For Help In The Wilderness right now.

Phone /Satellite Phone

Ok, so we know that if you are in the wilderness, using your phone might not be an option. Maybe it is out of battery or maybe you are not getting a signal. Luckily, text messages can be sent with even the lowest of signals. So, if you happen to be near a signal tower, sending a text message might just be your best bet. If you plan on spending a lot of time in the wilderness, we would recommend getting a satellite phone. These things usually always get a signal, thus making for the very best survival signal out there.

Emergency Whistle

Whistles are proven old school wilderness survival signals. Everybody who goes out into the wild should have a whistle with them, whether on a mountain, in a forest, or on a boat. You might think that you can scream really loud, but you are definitely not louder than the high pitched and shrill noise created by a survival whistle. If you think that people are nearby, or even if they are not, start whistling away to try and get the attention of anybody that can hear it.

Fire & Smoke Signals

Fire and smoke signals are probably some of the survival signals that you can use to signal for help. This is especially true in the night. The glow from a big raging fire can be seen from miles and miles away, thus alerting anybody in the area to your presence. Once again, the bigger the fire is, the better your chances are of being spotted.

Do be careful to not burn through too much fuel, especially if it is very cold, because you will need it to stay alive. However, if you are surrounded by plenty of fuel, build that fire up big time. Smoke signals work well too. To make smoke signals, you will need a lot of wet greenery on the fire that creates smoke. You will also need a tarp or cloth that is wet, plus an extra person too. A fire combined with smoke signals is a great way to alert people to your presence.

Tarps & Flags

When it comes to wilderness survival signals, flags and tarps are another good way to go. The bigger and brighter the tarp or flag is, the better the chances that someone will see it. Ideally, you would want to use a marker or some kind of contrasting dark color to write a help message on the tarp or flag.

Whatever the case, you want to make sure that the tarp or flag is not obstructed form above by trees. You want the tarp or flag to be clearly visible from the sky or from roads, ideally from both. Using a bright color that creates contrast between the survival signal and the surrounding area is also a must. People in an airplane won’t be able to see a green flag or tarp placed within or on top of trees. Something yellow, red, pink, or anything like that is ideal.

Mirrors

Using a mirror is another great survival signal that you should take advantage of. Mirrors are not expensive and they are easy to pack. Even better is the fact that they are easy to use to signal for help, plus they actually tend to be quite effective too. Mirrors work really well if you are in an open area, such as in a clearing in the woods.

They also work great if you happen to be stranded on a mountain or stranded at sea. Simply take the mirror, catch the sun’s light, and aim it into the sky. Even better is aiming the mirror at people or in the direction where people are known to be. This does rely on someone catching the gleam of light coming off the mirror, but it is much better than simply screaming for help.

Survey Tape

Survey tape may seem like a pretty unusual item to use for signaling, however it has proven to be a good method of signaling for help if you are lost or injured in the wilderness. Now, this does rely on other people to make it work. If you have survey tape with you, which we would recommend, you can wrap it around trees with a message written on it. Include your location, how many people there are, and if anybody is in dire need of medical attention.

This does mean that other people actually have to walk past the survey taped up trees, but it is better than nothing at all. Try to space out the tape in a wide area in order to make sure that the chances of someone else seeing it are as high as possible. Also, get bright survey take, something orange, yellow, or any other neon color that will attract attention. Survey tape definitely makes for a good survival signal.

Flares & Flare Guns

When it comes to signaling for help, flares and flare guns are an old school signaling method that has not gone out of style. Normal flares are really bright and can be seen from a long way away. So, if you have a flare, try and get it in a visible and clear area for aircraft to see. Even better is if you have a flare gun. Having a flare gun with you is something that many would consider to be a basic survival skill.

This way you can fire the bright flares high up into the sky and hopefully someone around will see it. Flares are good, but flare guns are even better. They definitely attract a whole lot of attention, which is exactly what you want to do when signaling for help. When it comes to flares, just don’t fire them where there are lots of trees because they do cause fires. Yes, a huge forest fire will get people’s attention, but it could injure you too, or worse. When it comes to survival signals, flare guns are one of your best bets by far.

Signaling For Help In The Wilderness Conclusion

Wilderness survival signals are really important to know for those times when things get rough. So, we would recommend having 3 or 4 of these signaling items with you at all times to ensure your safety in case things get tough.

Author Bio

Kel Warner is the owner and writer of www.everydaycarrygear.com A site designed to inform, direct and introduce like-minded readers about Survival Topics, Bugging Out Preparation and EDC Tools. Kel is a current serving military member of the Australian Defense Force, which has influenced her love for gadgets and tools that any GI-Joe or Jane would have in their kits or carry on their person.

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Everyone Starts Somewhere – How to Prep for the Future After a Disaster

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A guest contribution from Laure Marie Johnson to The Prepper Journal. Everyone has to start somewhere and the most quoted on this matter is of course Confucius (551 B.C. to 479 B.C.), also known as Kong Qui or K’ung Fu-tzu. As a Chinese philosopher, teacher and political figure his teachings are preserved in the Analects. He obviously was a practical man, one who knew that nothing is ever accomplished unless it is broken down into practical steps AND that first step is taken. So, with that in minds, here are some first steps from Laure in a planned journey for those who are new to prepping.

As you know Preppers are people who prepare for an impending disaster. They gather the basic supplies needed to survive while that disaster is happening around them. With food, water, a first aid kit, and other necessities, most people should be able to make it through their current situation. However, what most preppers fail to do is prepare for life after the disaster. How can people prep for what comes after the impending doom has come to an end and left the world in shambles? Some specialty equipment and supplies are going to be necessary. You’ll need far more than the basics kept in most typical packs.

Purchase Welding Gear

 

I have almost always had a pair of welding gloves but I have never welded anything. I have then to handle things that are too hot for my delicate little fingers. A radiator cap after a boil-over – yes, safety dictates that we wait until it has cooled BUT releasing the steam slowly, and more quickly, shortens the length of time we are hobbled on the roadside and minimizes the danger of further cracks and leaks from over-pressurized lines and hoses. And yes, my vehicles have the more modern systems BUT even those plastic caps can result in burns. Cutting down some iron fencing recently, in 105 degree temperature, changing the blade on my saw was a job for welders gloves. Somewhat clumsy but better than the expensive specialized designer heat gloves that can almost do the same job and who I payed so much for I don’t want them stained. Living in the desert you can dispatch a scorpion with welders gloves safely.

And if you do weld when they are indispensable to make repairs after damage has been done or weld together some metal to make something useful again or unique to help in your circumstances. Things your should have on hand are welding gloves, safety glasses, not to mention the welder itself, if you have a power source or fuels. Just because there are troubling times doesn’t mean people shouldn’t use precautions when handling equipment. Gloves and glasses help keep you protected while they work.

Gather Gardening Supplies

The food kept in the average prepper’s pack will only last so long. If people are left in a world they need to rebuild, no new food will be available unless people have the ability to make it. Beginning Preppers should gather gardening supplies to have waiting so they can grow their own fruits and vegetables if necessary. A good bag of soil is important to ensure the food can grow. Some seed packets of various options are also vital. While they aren’t completely necessary, some gardening tools and gloves will make the process easier as well as reading the many articles here on The Prepper Journal on gardening and food growing and storage.

Buy Canning Jars

The food grown in a personal garden will never remain edible if people don’t use precautionary measures for keeping them safe to eat. Fruits and vegetables especially go bad quickly, and without a refrigeration system there wouldn’t be much of a chance to preserve them for any longer. Canning jars are ideal in this situation. Preppers should buy as many canning jars as they can to store for later use, as these jars act as a preservation method for food items. Mason jars with screw-like tops seal foods inside and keep them edible for months or longer. The jars can remain sealed until the contents are ready to be consumed at a later date.

Get Weather Prediction Tools

Most people wouldn’t think twice about the weather when there are more pressing matters on the mind. However, people nowadays rely on meteorologists on the weather channel or an app on their phone to tell them what the weather will be like each day. If a tornado is about to sweep through the city or a hurricane is on its way, people are still going to need to know this so they can prepare.

Without someone to tell them, people are going to need to have weather prediction tools available so they know when to expect major weather problems that could be even more deadly than the original disaster they just went through. Weather prediction is just one of the top survival skills people need to have. A barometer, thermometer, and anemometer, or a portable radar system should be included on a prepper’s packing list.

Have Monitors and Filtration Systems

Depending on the damage left behind, many homes and buildings could now have carbon monoxide pouring into the air. Water sources could be filled with bacteria. There may be damaged electrical wires producing sparks. People need to have proper monitors and filtration systems that can help them handle safety issues such as these that arise. A water filtration system is key to ensure survivors can filter out any contaminants and have a safe drinking source. Monitors that help detect carbon monoxide should also be kept on hand, as well as voltage testers that let people know if there is a strong electrical current nearby.

Pack Camouflage Clothing

(Editors Note: the hat is a FAIL!)

Most people realize they should have some changes of clothes packed and ready to go in case of an emergency. They often think about the need for comfortable clothes that they’ll be able to move in easier, but fail to acknowledge the colors and patterns they should be choosing. It’s best to have dark-colored or camouflage clothing that will make it easier to hide from others. Staying hidden at times may be the best way to stay safe in the situation. Brightly colored clothes should never be included in a prepper’s pack.

Get a Sewing Kit

Clothes don’t last forever, especially if people are wearing the same ones over and over again while living in the wilderness. A sewing kit could come in handy to repair holes and keep the clothes people do have in the best condition possible. Warmth is vital when living off the land, so having holy clothes with no way to repair or replace them could be troublesome.

Learn Some Valuable Skills

Surviving a disaster takes more than having the right equipment and supplies. People also need the skills necessary to survive. Knowing how to start a fire, how to administer basic medical care, which berries are poisonous, and how to hunt are just a few valuable skills people should work toward achieving. You never know when a certain skill could come in handy, so it’s best to become a jack of all trades and become well-versed in all areas of work. Without knowing when a disaster could strike, it’s important people start using all the time they can to make advancements in their learning.

Being fully prepared for a disaster is more than gathering granola bars and bottles of water. A truly disastrous event could change the world as we know it, making advanced supplies far more necessary to keep on hand and at the ready. With welding gear, gardening supplies, canning jars, weather prediction tools, monitors and filtration systems, camouflage clothes, a sewing kit, and some valuable life skills, preppers will be as prepared as possible to begin rebuilding life after the catastrophe.

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Prepper Must-Haves: Shipping Pallets

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Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

There are probably 1,001 uses for wooden shipping pallets besides sticking them in a burn barrel. We can regularly source them for free or for very low cost by talking to distribution centers and contractor supply stores about their breakage piles, eyeballing the dumpster areas of shopping centers and warehouses, or checking sites like Craigslist and Freecycle.

Spin around online and you can find all sorts of projects and builds for people of all skill levels. They can make our lives easier and seriously cut our costs in many cases. A free item with that much potential makes them an automatic must-have in my book. I’m mostly going to talk about simple builds this time around, but pallets also get turned into pretty impressive structures, gardens, and furniture.

Pallets come in several standard sizes and a handful of configurations. While the type can matter for some of our projects due to the number, cut, and spacing of boards, for the most part applications are pretty universal. For details about shipping pallet types and sizes, check out this site http://www.airseacontainers.com/blog/most-common-shipping-pallet-measurements/.

Disassembled = Board Lumber

Remember, once disassembled, our pallets are just lumber. That opens up the whole world of projects. Rifle racks for the range or safes, food storage shelves, bird houses and playhouses; anything we’d repair or build can be done with pallets.

Those boards also have use in hiding some of the “ugly” around our homes. We can use them to sheath everything from our water storage totes and barrels, to whatever containers we’re planting in.

We can also double up our pallet boards for a little more durability and strength if we want. I mention this because some stuff is heavy and would do better with a 2×4 than 1×4. (I tend to live in the “abundance of caution” and JIC world for the most part, although I’ll dispel that and make heads spin in the next section.)

Safe or Unsafe

How “safe” the various treatments used on pallets is for us depends on our intended use, even if we’re worried about chemicals. Most articles and videos will tell you that only HT-Heat treated pallets are safe, although others include debarked (DB) and the “safe” EPAL European designator. I’m not going to hand my kids lead pacifiers or mix up powdered milk or pony drenches in bleach bottles, but I also don’t get too wrapped around the axle on some fronts. This is one of them.

If you consume Big Ag meats (supermarket to Outback or Whataburger), farmed or bottom-feeder fish, “normal” supermarket eggs and dairy, soda or anything in the center aisles made with corn or soy, or if you drive 3 hours/week, burn trash, touch cash and then your face/food, smoke (anything), handle lead (ammo), sit by campfires, live in a city, microwave food in plastic, use rain catchment without serious decontamination filters, have dark irrigation hoses or foam mattresses, or buy commercial animal feed … don’t sweat those markers too much.

One, you’re more likely to die from a vehicular accident, and be hospitalized from supermarket leafy greens or infection contracted in the hospital than from one more of the ubiquitous chemicals around us. Two, those chemicals mostly only become available as our pallets (or anything) decays. That means tiny increments released over time (vice chugging a can of stain). Chemicals mostly head downward with moisture, with only some outward contact spreading outward – only fractions of them are available for possible uptake. Only fractions of that then ends up in the seeds and fruits we eat.

All that said, the warnings about chem-treated pallets originate from garden methods using them, then became universal “rules”. (Pallet garden potentials are so numerous, I’m not even going to talk about them here – they rate an entire article.)

Point is, don’t blanketly accept conventional wisdoms without thinking them through. They may not even apply (or are total bunk). Some stuff, for some/many people, is worth stressing. Some stuff isn’t.

Water Storage

Speaking of safe and unsafe, the conventional wisdom is that we don’t want to store plastic containers, particularly of water, on concrete due to the chemical interaction that allows contaminants to enter our foods. There’s some hot-not and storage-duration wiggle room, and while I tend to err on the side of caution in this case (and when it comes to previous milk containers), there’s some myth-truth proposals here http://www.preparednesspro.com/myths-and-facts-of-water-storage to spur analytical thinking.

For the most part, I don’t really see how laying cardboard, 2×4’s, or 1×4’s under plastic barrels and buckets destabilizes them unless somebody gets really cute (or stingy). Personally, I’m a big believer in keeping stuff up off the floor, period. Even beyond chemical interaction concerns, being able to stack stuff also comes in handy, both to maximize storage space and in some cases to make it easier to use.

One point to note about water in particular is that it’s heavy. Not only does that apply to any rack we use, it also applies to container sizes. The older I get and more injuries I accumulate and heal, the more I’m willing to downsize. That includes containers for dry goods and water.

It’s just easier to build structures for, pull down, move, clean, and refill a 3-6 gallon bucket than a 35-55 gallon barrel. About the only remaining exceptions in my various storage are wheeled trash cans.

*Those are not food safe, either, if it’s a concern – told you I’d make heads spin. (Most of my trash cans hold mylar-bagged foods and animal evac feed and supplies; some are wash/laundry water catchment).

As-Is Uses

There’s lots pallets can do for us even if we’re not yet DIY-ers, and lots that requires minimal building skills. For one, just getting stuff off the ground, as mentioned above. That can be hay, mulch, bagged amendments, toolboxes in our sheds or outdoors, food storage buckets and barrels, or creating elevated resting platforms and feeding stations in pens or pastures that tend to get muddy.

They can help keep our boots cleaner – and to some degree limit the risk of slipping in wet and icy weather – by creating walkways, and prevent ATVs, Gators, carts, and bikes from bogging down or tearing ruts on trails and in gardens. They can also decrease or eliminate risks and wetness from ditches and seasonal streams, making getting around faster and easier.

Steps & Rails

If we’re on a tight budget, we might find we can use a boost as well as a stepping stone. We might also decide that a step or hill is a little too much for us as we age, get pregnant, or face injury. Pallets can help us there, too, and it tends to be a ridiculously easy build.

Go easy on how high we go with these things – I’ve seen some crazy. They are wood and even treated, they are eventually going to rot and crack, and need replaced. Also, make sure you anchor these things together and to the ground.

If you want or need steps or a sidewalk past mud, a hand rail is usually a fantastic idea, even if it’s just posts somebody can snag. We can turn other pallets into those rails to increase safety and ease.  

Simple Builds

There are plenty of other simple builds out there that at most require splitting, hanging, or trimming an as-is pallet to size, adding some screws or in some cases a hinge, a few hooks, and some cord or chain. The ease makes pallets a valuable learning tool (and confidence boost) for preppers who are just dipping their toe into DIY. The in-expense also means if there’s a screw-up, no big. Scrap lumber is handy to have around.

Some of the simplest ways to use pallets is just to slap three or four of them together to make a work bench, desk, countertop, or table. Flip that on its side, link a few in series, and you’ve got a leaf mold or compost heap. With a sturdy wall or a couple of convenient trees and $3-10 in hardware, and you can make one or two pallets into a permanent or Murphy-bed style station that functions as a desk, a table, or a workbench, indoors or out.

With some additional screws and hooks or disassembled boards, we can use a wall or those handy trees to hang our tools in a shed or outside the garage. We can also hang them from the sides of our tables or benches.

For a really simple build, just fix a handful of shipping pallets together with deck screws (flip-flop which side is up as you stack to increase shelf depth). Add caster wheels and it’s a rolling storage shelf or workbench.

With some cinder blocks or some 4x4s, we can create shelving with very little building experience, using whole pallets, pallets that are cut in half to make shallower widths, or disassembled boards. (Remember: even a pint canning jar is heavy on its own and holds another pound worth of liquids or foods – use healthy boards and consider doubling them up.)

Another super-simple build using just deck screws is stacking a few pallets and adding one perpendicular to form an L shape. Set that on some cinder blocks and top with a mattress, seat cushions, or pads and you’ve got a bench seat or day bed. Some additional lumber or blocks creates storage spaces for totes, baskets, or drawers salvaged from a wrecked dresser or filing cabinet.

If you’re after some inexpensive yard, starter-home, or bug-out location furniture, the sky is the limit and the internet is just full of ideas. Personally, I’m not much for the rustic pallet look, but with a coat of paint or whitewash, our pallets can get prettier if and where it matters.

Fencing & Pens

Another fantastic use for pallets that requires little DIY experience is fencing for our dooryards, gardens, and animals, to protect trees, or just to increase our privacy a little. We can use them pretty much as-is and connect them to each other, standard fenceposts, or poles we make our or a neighbor’s overgrown saplings and trimmings. We can also pull a board or two from each to cut at an angle and drive into the ground for stability or to use as an overlapping connector between pallets.

If heights of 18-24” work instead of 3-4’, we can very quickly halve our pallets and double the area we enclose. We can also totally or partly disassemble them and churn out top-rail or a 2-3 rail plank fencing, or do some extra cutting for an HOA-acceptable picket fence.

If we have problems with raccoons reaching through our poultry and rabbit fencing, we can brace whole or half-height pallets against our existing runs to add depth. Likewise, they can create a buffer to allow some grazing but keep chickens and goats from eating something to the trunk or roots.

We can also take pallets apart and reassemble them in a solid wall if our birds/hares like to do dumb stuff like huddle in a corner where something can get its claws through – there’s little worse than a disassembled critter the predator couldn’t even get out to eat.

I said I wasn’t going to talk about pallet gardens, but when it comes to fencing, that’s actually one of the benefits they offer. Pallet fences allow us to grow vertically either on the protected inside or on the outside of critter pens where our critters can’t reach, or both.

Pallets for Preppers

Pallets can be an excellent step into the world of DIY for beginners, as well as help everybody save money. Gardens, livestock feeders, and sheds are big enough categories to really rate their own articles, but there’s so much more. If you’ve got a need, see if somebody has a how-to using pallets, but don’t forget that pallets are also just board lumber waiting to be sanded.

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Grid-Down Missing-Person Searches

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Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

Loved ones go missing every day, all over the modern world. They always have. Disasters – especially fast-moving disasters – have more than their share. In a major crisis, we can expect to continue to have lost souls we want to find. As always, a little prep work will greatly improve our odds of success.

A while ago I wrote an article about missing persons that focuses on steps to take now that applies to both continuing “normal” or near-normal life and temporary disasters. Many can assist with various limited-comms, bug-out-route and grid-down missing person searches as well.

“Psh, Only Idiots Get Lost/Lose People”

It’s easy to watch the news from our chairs and scoff over the idiocy of somebody who managed to lose themselves, partners/buddies, children, or seniors, or the choices made after somebody became lost. But it happens, all kinds of ways.

Many of us believe we’ll be busier than ever in a disaster. Busy leads to tired. Tired leads to falling asleep in an instant, in some pretty incredible places – ask a newborn’s parents. In that brief moment, kids, pets and senile seniors can be gone, gone faster and further than we sometimes expect.

It’s also pretty easy to lose your bearings in snowstorms, in less-familiar terrain, if you’re not noting the local trend for which way things pile around trees and how your direction of travel relates when tracking/stalking/retrieving game, if it’s a gray day with little sun or there was or is now deep fog, or if there’s little terrain difference to help. Then there’s disorientation from things like relative contraindication from medications, taking a different cold/allergy/PMS pill than usual, or getting bopped in the head, and making poor decisions or staggering somewhere before we get our senses back.

We’re preppers, supposedly planning for even the most improbable worsts. If nothing else, take it from that tact and make a plan. Otherwise, we’re the ones guilty of complacency bias and only hoping for the best.

MPs Are Not Always Lost

MPs can know exactly where they are and exactly how they would get home, if they could. A vehicle accident/malfunction, rotting wood giving way, being treed by a bear/dogs, getting Tigger’ed into a river, gored by a buck/bull, snagged in a game trap or barbed wire, pinned by the vehicle/equipment we were working on, dislocating a shoulder when we fell out of a tree stand so we’re hanging by our harness unable to climb or release … all kinds of things can happen, even to experienced folks.

Again, preppers here. They were worth planning to feed and defend. They’re worth planning to find if they go missing, even when there’s no agency to tap for help.

Communication – Pre, Peri & Post

Just like we need to communicate the 3x-primary and 3x-alternate bug-out plans/routes to family and partners in case we’re not actually there, everybody needs to understand our missing person plans. Add the list of steps you’ll take to everybody’s pocket/wallet/fridge/bag medication, patient history, and ICE lists.

The steps will be conditional, just as our get-home and bug-out steps vary by needs and abilities. It’s going to depend on personnel, terrain, weather, and human climate conditions as well as if we’re home or mid-bug out. Create a quickie reference guide akin to SALUTE reporting or RTFA assignments for facets/functions you need to address. Game plan as many variables as possible, amending the outline as you go and creating an SOP for each general situation.

Share that plan. If it’s a group that meets or if the family is a captive audience in the car or around a campfire, that’s a great time to bust out printed outlines and gather input to create our plan.

Especially with family, remember, you’re not conducting training or a lecture unless you’ve been invited to conduct training or a lecture. Approach it as “hey, guys, saw this on the news… what if… check this out… Adam, what do you think about… Eve, how would you handle… Hey Zus, do you have any ideas on… Bani, what would you change with…”.

The perceived input opportunity will greatly impact how information is received, how well it lodges, and whether some five-year-old has the chance to offer one of those brilliant “the elephant is still in the fridge” observations that seriously impacts your success.

So does our communication when something goes wrong.

Part of ALL crisis planning needs to be eliminating “calm down” from our vocabulary. I seriously question if ever in the history of human speech has “calm down” actually had positive effects, argument or panic mode, but it’s even less likely to work with a missing loved one. The goal is “chill” but we don’t want to actually say “dude, chill; you’re/that’s not helping”.

They may shut down – costing us their input – or it can backfire entirely with “Don’t tell me to calm down!” arguments or people heading off on their own. If our people are important enough to find, it’s important enough to learn how to communicate under stress, in a way that doesn’t create additional distractions.

Find alternatives that express a “why” and convey action instead. “I’m spastic, too. We need everybody together to gather information and eliminate possibilities so we can find them without losing extra time.”

Having ready-to-go plans, with and without current resources/authorities, can help. It eliminates the willy-nilly checking and “what do we do” stages, streamlines information gathering, and creates definitive action steps. Just having set steps takes away panic, and following them gives us the “do something” outlet of action, keeping everyone productive (and calmer).

Common MP Thoughts

Let’s face it: Most people do not want to admit they’re lost. They’ll keep going another “five more minutes” or “one more hill”. Repeatedly. Fighting that ego from a searcher’s end is impossible. (Also, delays from: “Ermagad, I’m in so much trouble” from both MPs and babysitters/caretakers.)

Therefore, we plan for MPs to cut some circles, zig-zags, and perpendicular trail even if they do eventually go “okay, fine, Imma hug dat tree now that I’m 500-5000 yards from where I was when I went ‘uh-oh’.” We also plan for them to have had time to wait, dehydrate/become tired (poor decision-making), fret, and start moving again.

That means we start with checking specific locations, but when we search, we search wide.

MP Search Basics

Whistles – Whistles can be heard when you’re behind/under rubble or too dehydrated/exhausted to purse your lips or make sound. They get dampened by thick brush and forest, but the shrill still carries further than croaks and shouts, and it’s a much more distinct, unmistakable sound.

I understand not wanting to add more to pockets and keyrings. Still, daily task kit buckets/boxes, and range, hunting, GHB/BOB/72-Hour/GOOD, and day bags can all handle a small piece of plastic or metal clipped to them. So can life vests, horse tack, the mower, ATV, tiller, PTO on-off switch or attachment point, and tow hitch (ideally somewhere low – like, where it can be grabbed if you’re on the ground pinned or broken).

Mark Your Trail – Urban or wilds, once you realize you’re lost and as you search, mark where you’ve been and where you’re headed. Put supplies for marking on the pocket list so it’s not forgotten.

Make sure to mark both “sides” and “top and bottom” when you go over a verge, change direction to reach resources, or circumvent impasses. It can be breaking branches, notching trees, colorful cord/rope, strips of cloth or tape, clothespins, hi-vis spray or tube paint, dragging a foot the direction of travel, paper to wrap or tuck, or using rock or a chunk of metal to hammer/scratch a mark in concrete or brick.

From the MP side, we can also leave messages. “Water”, “fire tower” or “downhill” can be carved into a stick, door, etc. Had Bill Ewasko http://www.otherhand.org/home-page/search-and-rescue/searching-for-bill-ewasko/ scratched his “well, boogers” and then his “oh crap” intentions into a bone or written in blood on a shirt sleeve and stuck them atop or sticking out of a mound on a ridge or the center of a trail, we’d probably know what happened to him.

Teamwork – Ideally searchers go out in at least pairs or foursomes. It’s a safety thing, and it provides options for communicating and reacting to developments.

Base/Control – Whether we have radios/phones or are totally non-electric, even if we only have 2-3 people, one stays “home” (or wherever the MP is supposed to meet us). The home-base body is going to mark cleared areas and coordinate most-likely spots and searchers as information/personnel become available. They’re also there to keep people there as they return, MP or searchers.

Base/control personnel can be chosen either for coordination skillsets, or to decrease their risk exposure. If I have an ER nurse and a basic shooter-grower with equal search skills, Doc holds the fort. Likewise for even just a head cold, or whose available gear/boots are most suited. Continually assess available assets for who you’d send where (for all scenarios, not just MPs).

If you can’t leave a body, create a message board where the MP disappeared, where they’re heading, at the campsite, at nearby water sources, etc., telling the MP to stay put and leaving information about coverage and plans/goals for others.

If there’s only one map, it goes with the searcher(s) unless they’re very familiar with the area – in which case it reverts to base/control. Keep BOB and vehicle maps in insert sleeves or have Contact or parchment paper that can be used as overlays for non-permanent notations (and inside Ziploc’s in case it’s raining).

Come-Back & Rally – Create recall signals or rally intervals that fit grid-down, no-electronics home and on-the-trail situations. We need to pass incoming information (like finding the MP), especially in risky terrain/climates/weather. Arrange flags, flares (wildfire hazards), foghorns, sirens, gunshots at interval, a return-to-base every 2-6 hours, whatever fits our needs and abilities.

Pattern Awareness – Habits can help establish timelines and clue us if somebody left in a hurry or is acting out of character. Absent and present bags, clothing/shoes, and equipment can tell us where MPs aren’t as well as where they might be. Know where somebody was going to garden, hunt, fish, and collect wood, and the routes they use to get there.

List a reminder on pocket checklists if searchers need to carry out must-have’s like an inhaler, insulin, blood thinner, or seizure meds.

Specific Targets – Nobody goes out to “just” look. The ones checking likely spots work off a list. If there is not positive contact with base/control, they return before they re-deploy, even if they think of another or found a trail to follow. If somebody trails, they stick to trailing. They return/make contact before acting on any brilliant idea that occurs.

Without likely spots or a tracker, you work a spiral or you zig-zag a set of square grids or cones leading from the MP’s last-known location and likely destination or alternate destinations. Again, those souls do not re-deploy without positive contact with base/control.

Otherwise, the same locations get checked by multiple teams while others go unchecked for hours/days, searchers end up looking for searchers who failed to rally (resources away from MP, or unnecessary endangerment/exposure after an MP is found), and only one team has information that would be valuable to all of them or would contribute to forming a better picture, which sometimes completely changes how and where you’re looking.

Grid-Down Missing Persons

While the grid is up and for however long authorities exist, getting them involved immediately makes a huge impact on missing-person recovery. On our own, we need to act quickly, but it needs to be orderly. An SOP and pocket quick-reference checklist to guide information gathering and searches – one that includes communication plans for all scenarios – will prevent costly mistakes and wasted time.

There are steps in “Preparing for the Worst Day” http://www.theprepperjournal.com/2016/04/29/preparing-for-the-worst-day/ that can make things faster both in normal life and a power-out, limited-comms disaster. Many also apply to extended grid-down mega-crisis scenarios.

People of all ages and skill levels go missing every day. They always have and always will. Don’t let this be the prep that gets pushed aside until it’s too late.

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Why You Should Write Down Your Emergency Plan

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Why written emergency plans (EP) are better than just having one on your mind

Terrorism attacks, accidents or natural disasters can occur any time and if you are unlucky enough, leave you dead or in a hospital and in a dire financial situation. Fortunately, most emergencies are somewhat foreseeable such as flooding, wind and solar storms and hurricanes and to some extent, health problems. As it were, constant disaster preparation is a life philosophy of every prepper, and one of the ways to prepare for an emergency is to have a logical emergency plan for you and your family.

The purpose of this post is to analyze why written emergency plans are better than just having one on your mind. But before we even go there, why do you need to plan for emergencies in the first place?

  • It reduces potential losses and damages – Emergency planning may involve, for instance, buying and placing fire extinguishers all over your house and teaching family members how to operate them. Thus, they will be able to stop fires before they spread and raze the whole house.
  • It’s a confidence boost – With an EP, you and your family will know what exactly to do in case of an emergency. In the event of a disaster, they will be calmer and organized as opposed to the panic, chaos, and feelings of helplessness that accompany unpreparedness. Isn’t that what makes preppers ‘better’ than other people? Well, more dependable for sure.
  • Helps you get through emergencies – Planning for food, clean water, and medical supplies for sick members of your family makes it easier to go through difficult situations and saves you much-needed money.

Having said that, we can now agree that emergency plans are too important to be stored in memory or on your phone or laptop. You need to put it in writing for the reasons discussed in the next section.

5 Reasons Why Your Emergency Plan should be in Writing

Below are some reasons why hard-copy emergency plans absolutely rock:

  1. For Easy and Fast Reference

Keeping your EP in hard copy and making enough copies for everyone enables them to quickly check what to do or who to contact in an emergency. On the flipside, keeping emergency phone numbers or procedures in your memory may cause panic when, in the face of disaster, you forget some numbers or steps. As a matter of fact, it is quite hard to focus or remember things in such occasions. Additionally, when your family members are not privy to your plan, they might get panic attacks or get hopeless when faced with a calamity, which can, in turn, affect your psyche and your reflexes.

It is even worse if you keep your plan on your phone or computer as it could go off exactly when you need it the most. You might also not be in a position to access your electronics and as you know, emergencies and time wait for no man. With printed copies, which by the way should always be in your and every other family member’s sight, you won’t have a problem with communication and managing disasters as they happen.

  1. Writing Keeps You Focused and Self-Aware

When you write, your brain is focused on the act of writing and strives to create a logical flow. As such, you are able to write what’s on your mind without filtering any thoughts. Most importantly, old-school writing (using pen and paper) will help you remember disaster preparation concepts that you’ve learned whether from life experiences or government programs. You will also retain knowledge by noting it down as your brain will go into overdrive trying to decide the words to use, committing to long-term memory in the process. In an unfortunate situation, you will be able to remember at least some parts of your plan even without referring to the binder.

When it comes to emergency planning, we recommend that you first write all your concerns and aspirations in case of emergency on a draft paper then compile them into an organized document.

For Fast Review and Corrections

When you plan things in your head, the chances are that you won’t be able to see any faults in your thoughts. On the other hand, when noting down your plans, you can always review later to check for mistakes and do corrections. In this context, you can do further research and consultation with experts, authorities and your family and compare their thoughts, opinions, and suggestions with your plan. Also, keeping a hard copy of your emergency plan close to you gives you the chance to read it over and over at different times and with time, you might be able to see some mistakes you overlooked and amend them in time.

It’s Easy to Make Helpful Noted and Schematic Drawings While Writing

As mentioned in the first point above, the act of writing focuses your thoughts on one idea at a time. Sometimes, as you jot down a fire management strategy, for instance, you can almost ‘see’ a certain thing or action in your mind that would be convenient in such a situation, such as an available door for quick exit.

Depending on the clarity of the mental image, you can make a drawing to show how one can move from different rooms in the house to the exit door and on to safety. Whether you are a good artist or not, as long as you can focus on a single image and make a draft, it can always be improved and polished by another person. Furthermore, it would be easier explaining to your family the movements and procedures to follow in case of a disaster using images and drawings as opposed to only words

If Something Happens to You, Your Family Can Use Your Plan

Keeping everything to yourself or on your phone, which probably requires passwords for every action, will only make things difficult for your people in case something bad happens to you. For one, they probably won’t be aware that you had an emergency plan in the first place. Secondly, if they can’t access your plan, they will come up with their own which could be ineffective due to panic. Sadly, statistics from the US government show that only 33% of Americans have communication plans in case of emergencies.

In essence, by writing a comprehensive emergency management plan in an easy to understand manner, you not only make things simpler for yourself but to your family, neighbors, and friends too. They will know exactly what to do in case of anything and everything and who will be in charge of what, thereby minimizing confusion, chaos, and stress.

Conclusion

It is often said that failing to plan is planning to fail and as a prepper, it’s hard to argue with that. Emergencies and disasters are messed up by themselves. You don’t want to add disorganization and disorder to it. Create a plan for such occasions, put it down on paper and circulate it to every member of your family and close friends. With that, you will be able to at least minimize the disastrous consequences of those bad days on you and your family’s lives.

About the Author: Lucas Cappel is a writer and an educator from Ohio. Graduate from Ohio University, he has a deep-rooted interest in education and sharing knowledge – interest that he shared in his work as a writer/editor at Theessaywriter.net and a philosophy tutor.  

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Horsepower For Preppers – Quickfire Intro

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Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

Periodically preppers and prepper fiction bring up hoof stock as options for A Bad Thing that removes electric and combustion engines. It’s really only been 100-150 years since equines and bovines were the go-to, and in some less-developed nations, they still are. There are also still plenty of areas worldwide where we can find bovines and equines laboring alongside tractors and transport vehicles. Even here in the U.S., we use livestock to access remote areas, help us haul big game out of back country, and periodically tow somebody’s 4×4 out of mud or off a frozen rut. So it’s not all that unreasonable.

However, things have changed with livestock, and there are an awful lot of people who maybe romanticize it, and who don’t really understand livestock’s’ needs or consider the options we have. I’ll come back and detail some hoof stock horsepower aspects in greater detail, but I want to start by thumb-nailing some of the basics and vox populi.

Workhorse Basics

There are generally three equines in the horsepower conversation, horses, donkeys and mules. Horses are mares (female) and stallions (male). In donkeys, it’s jenny and jack, and in mules it’s molly and john (johns are also “horse mules”). Babies are foals, colt (male) or filly (female)

Jennet – Some still use jennet for a specific size and gaited horse (of any breed; a descriptive like “bay” or “goer”). Usually when we hear it, it’s just a different way to say “jenny”. Some use jennet instead of filly for immature female mules.

Sometimes it’s jargon referring to dedicated-nanny livestock guardian donkeys that mother their adopted herds, more than just chasing threats, or to a mule or donkey that cottons to her human and nuzzles or defends them like she would a foal.

Ponies – They’re technically the same species as horses, but they have different conformations. Ponies and mini horses also seem to have … uhm, character … more often than other equines. (Not all ponies are Demon Goats. Mini horses, now….)

Geld Often & Early – Multiple stallions/jacks are like having too many roosters: it causes problems. Geldings are also far easier to handle than un-cut males, and since spaying is a non-starter for equines and bovines, it’s the only method of population control.

Oxen (and yaks) – Oxen are mature gelded cattle, with dairy breeds generally preferred. For significant chunks of American history, they – not equines – were the go-to engine. They were so favored during wester expansion heydays that start-point towns ran out of them, even after their prices tripled. (They defaulted down to mules.) They’re still the most-used draft animal worldwide due to their economy, durability, and power.

Yaks are bovines, too, but like Asian and African cattle, they have some differences due to our specific breeding trends.

Cattle really rate their own article. I’ll mostly talk equines here, but I wanted to toss in oxen because they’re so often minimized or absent when preppers talk livestock farm labor or backup labor for long-term, widespread disasters.

Bursting Bubbles

Nutrition The days of domestic hoofstock eating solely off pasture is largely gone, due both to the graze areas we usually have available and modern livestock’s needs. If realistic sustainable feed isn’t part of the prepper plan, working hoofstock needs to be left off, too (all livestock, really).

Feed is the largest expense in ownership, and it’s greatest for horses. Horses require higher-quality nutrition, more highly digestible nutrition, and more protein per bodyweight and work. Donkeys are darn-near goats. They need less total by bodyweight and much lower-quality feeds. Too much feed and too much protein will actually make them sick and in very short time, they’ll get fussy, cantankerous, and hard to handle.

Training Takes Time – It starts with handling from birth, ideally, and exposure to what we want. I’m not saying to work an immature animal, but to have it ready to work once it’s mature. Most equines and bovines also require refreshers and continuing work to remain steady on lead and under rein, and animals require the same ramp-up exercises and maintenance conditioning as human athletes.

Training to task isn’t automatic or as easy as dogs. Many owners and even large-animal vets have no idea how to train working stock from scratch. Don’t count on either for next-gen working livestock in widespread disasters; find a trainer.

Mules Are InfertileMules are crosses between horse mares and jack donkeys. The parents have different numbers of chromosomes, which leads to mules’ infertility. (Hinnys get lumped in as mules, but their parents are swapped. Chromosome counts and preferences make them relatively rare.)

Male mules are always infertile. Female mules are fertile and viable so rarely it makes national news if one carries to term. Ours will not be the exception. If repeatable next-generation hoofstock is part of your goal, starting with mules is not going to get you there. You need parent stock or to pick a species.

Gun Shy – Horses, longears, and cattle are not automatically chill about gunfire, especially shots going off right behind their heads. Train up for a gun horse, or prepare to outrun the bad guys or haul that elk home yourself.

It also takes a good seat and practice to get even center-mass shots from a moving vehicle, to include wagons and saddles. Just sayin’.

Bonus add-on: You can get earplugs for horses to save their hearing (kid ya’ not). Gun dogs, too.

   

“Healthy as a Horse” – Is a lie these days. See…

Horses Are Delicate – They always have been, comparatively, but along with the way we’ve tailored other domestic animals (and crops) in modern times, there are tradeoffs. Horses have developed fragilities from their guts to their feet, as well as increasingly demanding feed needs, especially performance breeds. We also breed in injury and illness-inducing stuff for the sake of looks (oversizing, undersizing, dish-face Arabians).

Bare-Bones Basics

Size Matters – Breeding lineage leads to wildly different shapes and sizes between equines and within breeds. All tack (even bits) varies to fit differing conformation, and is not automatically transferable between animals, even moving between horses and near-sized long ears. Tack is also purpose-driven, especially harnesses.

Hoofstock has hooves – Hooves are just big ol’ thick toenails. They grow, continually. Most domestic hoofstock needs help with their toenails these days, typically every 4-6-8 weeks. Many owners/groomers call in a specialist. Some handle their own hoof care, but many of those still want their work checked several times a year.

Vets are not farriers – Even if there’s a hoof problem (or a problem we’re going to address by changing the hoof and thus how weight is carried), a large-animal vet will typically tell the farrier what they’re after. Very few do it themselves (or know how).

Shoes – Shoes are not automatically necessary (excellent article & images: http://rockleyfarm.blogspot.com/2013/05/what-happens-when-hoof-wall-wears-away.html). Of note to preppers who do shoe, in recent decades we’ve gained more availability of temp and short-term special-purpose shoes, which increases our at-home, non-specialist prepper-stocking capabilities.

Filing – Instead of pincher trims for hooves, we can file as part of regular grooming. Equines also sometimes need tooth work, for many reasons, typically accomplished with a file (and sometimes a chisel, drill, and pliers). That is a specialist skill. It’s one that needs learned if we’re after complete equine sustainability.

LGDs – Livestock guardians is a big topic, one with lots of “if” that I’ll detail in a future article if nobody beats me to it (donkeys+dogs considerations, too). The quickfire is: Standard jenny or gelded donkeys, not jacks, not minis, not horses or mules.

Also remember that donkeys will regularly ignore other species if there are enough equines to satisfy their herd needs (usually at 3+).

Shy-Stand – In fight-flight-freeze reactions, horses generally flee. They shy, and when they bolt, they go. They’re also more prone to making big shows, throwing hooves around and slinging heads.

When longears see something hinky, they stop and study it until they decide how they’re handling *it*. That “stubborn” freeze is a fear, precaution or confusion manifestation, not meanness. They’re also pretty conservative with energy, and if you progress past ear cues and warning brays, they aim those feet and make sure their hit counts. (Teeth, too.)

Donkeys & mules are hard to bully – They also don’t fall for our pitiful “treat” coercions as often as dogs and horses, and they’ll call bluffs. When they “nope” but they must move, now, stop pulling the head. Push with a blanket or strap – not rope – behind its thighs.

Smart, not StubbornHad Geronimo been riding a donkey or mule, he’d have gone over that cliff by himself.

Donkeys and their mule/hinny offspring are too intelligent to put up with as much nonsense as horses and dogs. If they see stupid taking place or prior humans have taught them we’re mean/idiots, they’re even more inclined to dig in their heels. And just like the really smart dog breeds are not typically in the “easy to train” category, longears require creativity and patience.

Treat it with respect, earn its faith, and train with clear, sensible steps. They’ll be an affectionate puppy willing to cross hells for us, too.

Conventional Wisdoms

Donkeys/Mules don’t founder – Myth. Founder is laminitis – swelling of the tissue that connects equine hooves to their skeletons – but it’s sometimes used for any stock animal dropping from exhaustion. Longears founder, but it’s usually from overfeeding and too much protein, not physical faults, heat, exertion, or overwork. (Psst … Oxen are troopers, too.)

A safer mount/draftWelllll… Donkeys tend to be sure-footed. That, their “stop and look” reaction to unknowns and threats, and their unwillingness to endanger themselves all contribute to longears’ reputations as safer animals under rein or on lines.

They’re also savvy and attentive, possibly because they still have more “wild” blood and inclinations, have smaller offspring, and aren’t fast enough to get away from as many things as horses can. Mules inherit that. So they do seem to startle less frequently.

I will grant that pack horses are more prone to boredom issues. But I’m still not willing to make a blanket assertion that horses (or specifically geldings) drift/zone/doze and stumble more often on trail.

For draft safety, don’t forget about oxen. Next time a Western shows a runaway stagecoach or stirrup-hung cowboy, check out what’s pulling them. Hollywood, sure, but I’ll betcha those runaways aren’t oxen.

Pound for pound, longears out-work horsesWellllll… This argument gets made using both feed weight and carry-haul weights ratios of animal weight. Breaking down the numbers (and the problems with animal-weight percentages) needs its own article. But … okay, yeah, mostly.

Donkey/mule economy and strength ratios fit more potentials, but they’re not always the best fit. There is work that speedsters or cobbs/drafts and oxen are better suited to, if we can handle horses’ expense or oxen’s one-gear speeds (admittedly, it’s a low gear). There are also donkey/mule tradeoffs – training style, human-behavior tolerances, that noise.

Marish – Oh, REALLY real – Mares tend to have a little more attitude than non-breeding stallions or geldings. (Personal opinion: Mares are sneakier, too. And smug about it.) Longears can be opinionated, but jennies no more than geldings or jacks. Jennies are also less likely to exhibit any special stubbornness or PMS-like symptoms when they come into season.

Prepper Horsepower

Few working animals actually pay for themselves in modern nations, and many are ill suited to a subsistence lifestyle due to our commonly limited land. Still, their prevalence as labor in low-income areas worldwide should keep anybody from just immediately scoffing off hoofstock as a long-term grid-down preparation to make – when we’re educated and financially secure enough to provide for them.

Replacing our electric and combustion horsepower with livestock is full of factors to consider. A lot goes into maintenance, and there’s a lot to weigh between each’s needs and abilities and our own. If there’s interest, I’ll revisit the horsepower topic in the future with some details for comparison on the options, uses, working lifespan, load weights, and team synergy.

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Prepper Parenting – Involving the Kids

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: Another guest contribution from valknut79 to The Prepper Journal. As Summer vacation approachesAs always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, then enter today!

It takes a certain kind of person to become a prepper. This lifestyle has a certain charm, but because it is often backward-looking, it doesn’t appeal much to the next generation and their instant gratification, tech-savvy lifestyle. That said, kids are one of the main reasons why people turn to preparedness, and protecting and preserving a family is one of the main reasons why people are tuned into the idea of future-proofing their life. When you inevitably pass away, will you have done enough to instill the values of preparedness into your children, so that they can live a safe, stable and prepared life?

Parenting Style

I was never in the military, but my wife and I run a household of very near-military precision. My children say “Yes, sir” and “No Sir” and they follow orders. They know hand signals, and can interpret a glare or a look. When it comes to their behavior, we correct quickly, often, and we always pull them aside for an explanation of why they need to alter their behavior. There is no good-cop-bad-cop between my wife and I. We are both disciplinarians, and we planned it that way from the start.

We make it a habit of saying “no” just for the sake of having our children practice disappointment, and we made sure that they had chores from the age of three. A three-year-old can set the table and get the mail, a four year old can change laundry from wet to dry and drag recycling bins out on garbage day.

Our children have responsibility, and they also are familiar with following orders. Because both Dad and Mom are present as disciplinarians, we have only minimal difficulty in having our children follow along with the plan. If we need to move quickly, nine times out of ten, we can get our kids packed up and out the door in a flash. If they are told to be quiet, hold or bring something important, they can do it. They know how to dial out for help, and they know their neighbors in case of an emergency when (for whatever reason) Mom and Dad cannot respond.

Our style isn’t perfect, but in a bug-out situation, I have faith that even our youngest will be able to perform the tasks we need them to do.

Building Interest

My daughter knows the value of studying far before the tests in school. She has seen that when she crams, she does worse on the exams and remembers less when the inevitable final exams come. Despite this, without enforcement from her mother and I, she would cram for every test, even while espousing the value of learning and revisiting along the way. Practicality is always trumped by momentary fun.

This doesn’t make sense to an older person. If you see the value in acting a certain way, then you should act that way. They forget an important part of being a child: young people are all about the concept of play (even well into their late teens and twenties). Regardless of a thing’s inherent practicality, enjoyment, benefit, or any other factor, if it isn’t framed and presented in a fun way, it will never stick.

Therefore, instead of preaching the benefit of a prepared lifestyle, teach them how much fun it is to do prepper things. Want them to gain the benefit of food storage? Take them on a “shopping trip” in the garage and make cookies for breakfast out of the dried fruit and flour you find. Want them to learn about survival gardening? Start with the ultimate kid’s crop – sunflowers. Even teen boys will love growing flowers if you remind them that they are excellent presents for the young ladies they desperately want to win over. If you want them to learn survival skills, print out a hiking bingo sheet, and have them follow you on a short half-mile hike into the woods, increasing in length as they grow older. Camping in the woods is a scary proposition for many kids, but few object to camping in the backyard, especially when bribed with s’mores.

Young Preppers

For myself, I vividly remember the allure of having a pocket knife. My dad made me earn mine: I had to chop veggies for dinner with regularity, whittle a passable tool with his knife, and feather wood for a fire. I practiced for a summer, and after (eventually) demonstrating knife safety, I was given a choice of a few very small knives to begin my collection. This memory has stayed with me, and while I lost the knife long ago, I remember how having such a tool made me feel, and it did open my young mind to the possibility of fun outside of the television and backyard games.

Finding this niche while young was, I believe, quite essential, and while my Dad was no prepper, I think he helped turn me to this field of knowledge with this important lesson he taught.

Youngsters (let’s say 11 and younger) are much easier to work with than teens. You need to expose them to a wide variety of experiences so that they can find the hook that draws them in. I spent a full summer practicing to earn my knife, while my own daughter could care less about this privileged.

Regardless of what you think about their politics, The Boy Scouts of America and Indian Princesses are two very worthwhile organizations for your children to join when young. You don’t need to do too much in terms of fund raising if you are OK with ponying up some cash, and if you have a good organization, they’ll teach kids and motivate them to explore learning about first aid and many survival skills at an early age. Nature camps are available in most suburbs, and if yours is any good, this can be a great option, as are sleep-away camps, where youngsters will finally have the opportunity to fend for themselves in a very supervised environment for a while, and perhaps come back with a love of the outdoors if you’re lucky. Taking them to events with your local park district or zoo is also a good way to teach a variety of skills, from archery to animal husbandry. There are dozens of books for young children that are about surviving the wilderness (see Hatchet by Gary Paulsen for the most famous of these). Even movies can be a good intro, and you literally cannot find a Disney movie that doesn’t have some bent towards practicality or preparedness.

Teens

Teens are easier than they seem (I teach high school and raised three of them, so I can make bold claims like this). I think that the problem that most parents find themselves in is that they let their teens go too soon and too often, or they hold on too tightly. Balance is essential. You might read into the “parenting style” section and think that I rule with an iron fist, but you’d be surprised with what I let my teens get away with.

 or 

Kids legitimately want to talk to you, and most want to get to know you, but are sometimes drawn to talking with specific parents about specific issues. My daughter will talk with me about her boyfriend issues, and my wife is left completely in the dark, just as I know almost nothing about what happened at soccer practice or which of her friends has a boyfriend. When we are together, nobody gets to know anything about her life, other than that school is “stupid” and she did “nothing” with her friends. Each of us fills a role for advice in her life, and neither of us, when together can cross over to the other side. Together, I cannot know anything about her social life outside of boys, while Mom cannot know about boys, so there is literally nothing we can talk about together.

One of the reasons that I think we have such a special relationship with her is that we planned very specific separate trips and activities with her. I took her on a cross-state driving trip to attend a soccer camp, and we spent a good 16 hours together in a car over the few days that she was gone, which is when I was finally allowed into her life space. My wife planned a similar vacation, and in each case, it has led to fun follow-up activities. She asked me about guns, and I took her to a shooting range (shh…Mom doesn’t know yet!). Mom brought her on a less educational trip to the spa. These kinds of trips have encouraged her sharing policy, but they are not the reason for it – this is how teens are wired (I know from my students). Specific people can learn about specific things.

It is also essential to allow your kids to be out and on their own ,and get in trouble to find a way out. My kids know that I am a good safety net, and that I’ll bail them out when things get too scary or dangerous, but we allow them to have a wide range of freedoms when it is their time. I let my son build a bonfire in my backyard once he could demonstrate the ability to safely start a fire. One of my other sons has had a few run-ins with police, and I let him suffer natural consequences. That’s a good thing for kids sometimes, and will teach them how to adapt to changing and unexpected circumstances quite quickly.

Growing Up

As children grow older, they will inevitably leave things behind, and the prepper interests you have cultivated may be among them. What’s great about growing older though, is that while those skills may fade, or be forgotten and left behind, that makes them ripe for nostalgia moments. Nostalgia, when older, makes everything you did as a child seem ten times more fun and adventurous than it once was, and may prompt more serious conversations when your young adults start to come back into the fold. “Remember when we went hiking and you showed me how to purify stream water, Dad?” Yes, I most certainly do, and apparently, my son remembered as well, and I took him out for the same experience later in the month, and he now has his own kit stored in his backpack.

As children grow older and make plans to move away, that is the ideal time to introduce them to the basics of true preparedness. When they get a car, make part of the privilege of borrowing your car be that they must also take a basic auto mechanic class. If they want to start attending parties, they need to learn basic first aid skills so that they can take care of someone suffering from alcohol poisoning, or someone so drunk that they fell down the stairs. Phrasing it like this is important – it makes the learning more real. When they choose their major at college, you can encourage practical skills that lead into a career instead of paying for courses in Basketweaving, Stress Relief or South African History. Part of their college packing should include a get-home bag, complete with emergency chargers, a first aid kit, and hidden away somewhere secret, a few small bills. When they eventually graduate and move to an apartment, they can then learn about food and water storage.

Nurturing a new generation of preppers is difficult, and it’s time consuming, but continuing the cycle is a sure way to ensure that all your own preparedness is going to lead to something, If you truly want and need your family to stay safe, then this is the next step.

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Garden Cheats – Quickie Starts & Expansions

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Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

Come spring and summer, a lot of us would be delighted to have a few more hours in the day. Gardening and producing crops is one of the many reasons. Sometimes we just don’t have the time or money to get started or to expand as fast or as much as we’d like.

Here are a few hacks we can use on that front, whether we’re beginners, or in a hurry for some expansions. Most are totally appropriate for anyone with a patio, balcony, or prime prepper property with acreage. They’re about saving time so we can start learning our gardening lessons or increasing our yields.

Tilling to break new ground is a multi-step process; new grass/weed seeds are brought to the surface with each pass and in some cases, weeds will sprout from the broken roots we leave behind.

Bench the Tillers

Whether we already have a big, tilled, bare-earth conventional plot and are just looking to expand, or are just getting started, it’s going to be fastest off the mark to skip tilling – at least for this season. An exception would be if we have a sod cutter we’re going to run through first, so the first inch or two of soil and roots – with a fair portion of the weed seeds – are at least getting bundled away.

Otherwise, every time we till, we’re introducing years or decades worth of weed seeds to the surface, and some of those seeds will last 70 years. It also takes multiple passes, mechanical or hand-turned, to get that nice, loose soil we like to see.

If we’re racing a clock and trying to save labor, it’s just easier to work from the ground up. There are numerous ways to do that, from layered lasagna beds, modified or true Eden-garden style beds, to some of the suggestions coming up.

With all of them, a layer of some sort forms a barrier between our existing ground plane and our good dirt for veggies, which will limit the weeds.

Cardboard is among the most common of those barriers. Sources to tap for cardboard are liquor stores, gas stations that sell cigarettes, stores that sell appliances, and moving companies. Moving boxes and appliance boxes are fantastic because they tend to be so big and so thick – it’s easy to cover a big span at once, and it forms an excellent exclusion barrier.

Other big advantages of starting from the ground up is that it creates a looser, less compacted growing space than conventional row gardening, the elevated beds benefit from drainage and will warm up earlier in the season, and – the biggie – we’re not first taking the time to till, waiting a week or two for the new weeds to sprout, and doing a second (and third) “kill till” before we even get to planting.

Caveat: We can absolutely make a first pass till to break up soil and lower grass competition, then layer up over that.

There is a big drawback, however. To go up, we’re going to need to source soil.

Maybe it’s from somewhere else on our property, or maybe we’re going to do a lasagna or hugel-style bed and use compost, so we really only need a couple handfuls of soil per “plug” and it wouldn’t be that expensive to buy. For more conventional beds, most of us will either be buying bulk or bagged soil, and it can get pricey compared to just digging up a patch of lawn.

Priority of time to get started planting, versus amount of work in the future (weeding), versus initial cost will have to get weighed out for each person and plot.

Low-Soil Methods

Growing styles like using lasagna beds and “trash” or “fill” beds that use layers of raw organic material and then only plugs of soil can be one way to limit the labor and cost of establishing a new bed or container garden. Over time, that organic material breaks down, feeds our existing soil plugs, and we actually start producing new soil.

In years past, there has also been the straw bale method. I used it myself a few times, and it works well – the first year, you grow in a bale that has had decomp started, again, using just a little bit of soil to start the seeds or give transplants a little room to groove before they expand outward. Some people can get two years out of a straw bale. Others will take this year’s straw bale, and use it to establish a new growing space, or as mulch for other beds or around trees.

I say “in years past” because a lot of hay and straw producers are now using herbicides in their fields. Sometimes those herbicides target a specific species or family, but in a lot of cases, they target all broadleaf plants. Sometimes those herbicides have a very short effective life, but many are persistent – they stick around for a while. Sometimes a year, sometimes two, sometimes more.

That means that as the straw starts breaking down and leeching into the soil or “feeding” our plants, it’s releasing those broadleaf killers.

The problem there is, straw bale gardens are not the most efficient way to grow grains, and most of the other veggies we eat are broadleaf plants.

I haven’t personally had a problem so far, but there is anecdotal evidence all over the web of people whose garden beds have been wrecked by not only straw, but also horse and cattle manure from animals that were fed hay from herbicide-treated fields. In some cases it’s a single season lost, but in others, people have apparently had to scrap the whole plot for anything but grains for more than 2-3 years.

If you can source herbicide-free square bales, that’s an excellent tomato, pepper, squash, and melon planter that leaves a lot of versatility for the future, and a good way to get started. If you can’t be absolutely sure … This is about fast, easy, relatively inexpensive ways to start gardening or expand our gardens, not “how to make you hate me in 2K words or less”. Just be aware of the increasing risks on the straw front, for both garden bales and mulching.

Bag Planters

These have been out there for a while, and they can work. There’s one where you poke holes in one “flat” side, lay that side on the ground, cut a big hole out of the other flat side, and use that as your planting space. That one restricts us to relatively shallow plants like lettuces, mustards, strawberries, and in some cases dwarf peas or compact bush beans – although spacing requirements for those can make it a little bit prohibitive.

Another version calls for slicing open the top of the bag, and sticking in our potato, tomato, pepper, or squash. With the exception of sweets, yams, and potatoes, or really small bags, we don’t usually need a whole bag per plant, but besides a companion flower or two, there’s not really room for more in there due to surface area.

We can also basically cut larger bags in half, and use one or both halves for our “big” plants, and stick smaller things like berries, peas and lettuces in cut-off drink bottles we fill from the other half.

There’s no need to ditch the soil at the end of the season. I have no idea where that misconception comes from – we wouldn’t ditch our in-ground or conventional raised beds each year; we just add amendments as needed. We can add coffee grounds and tea bags to our soil bags throughout the season to maintain fertility, just as we would a planter, raised bed, or in-ground bed or plot, and we can mix in compost or manure the next year if we want.

Most bags are only going to hold up for one season outside, so sourcing a bucket, tote or some big plastic drawers to serve as our planters the following year is a good idea.

Or, we can use the growing season we’re bagging it to go ahead and slowly build up a bed out of junk branches, chunks of logs, CMU, or timbers.

 

Bookshelf Beds

One way to quickly and easily cheat our way to a “pretty” garden bed is to pay attention to Craigslist, Freecycle, and curbside alert boards, and land ourselves a bookshelf. Many bookcases are already a good size to reach across for seeding, weeding and harvest, even for kids and adults. Most are shallow enough to be filled reasonably, whereas a filing cabinet on its back is going to need some junk wood and then leaves or straw to fill so we’re only supplying 6-12-18” of dirt.

All we need for most plants is that 6-8” of soil, although some will benefit from 12” or so. If that doesn’t fill the bookcase, no biggie. We can use those “trash” fills at the bottom, improving drainage, or we can add soil later, grow cover crops, add compost, and-or add mulch, and over time we’ll increase our depth.

An awful lot of modern bookshelves have basically cardboard backs that can act as our weed exclusion barrier – so we’re only sourcing one thing, and assembling our new garden bed is as easy as laying it on its back in its new home.

Bookcases are also nice, because they work right beside or even on a patio, can go atop gravel or asphalt, and don’t require much if any construction. Bookcases also won’t typically need drainage holes put in, although thick, solid-backed ones could use a few holes. That means even those who aren’t *yet* DIY-ers can get started without any power tools.

Another advantage to bookshelves is that they come with the frame, and most come with shelves. The frame becomes one “main” bed, and the shelves can get built into an additional, smaller bed (although we’ll need the exclusion barrier for that one).

Many bookshelves aren’t going to be a long-term solution, and some may need a few extra screws to last even a single season, but we can get started right away with a nice, bounded raised bed.

If we decide we like the location, we can work our way around that bed with timbers, stone, CMU, brick, or logs from storm-damaged trees. We can also use the bookcase as an inner form, assemble an outer form, and pour concrete if we really want a permanent solution in there.

Quickie Starts & Expansions

There are lots of ways we can get started gardening or expand our food production, quickly and easily. There are other hacks that help us maintain our veggies – such as locating them so we’re more likely to see problems fast and actually take care of them, and keeping them close enough it takes no time at all to get out and weed, water and harvest.

There are also ways we can decrease the labor and time that gardening takes, from mulch to covering beds, planting styles, and even our plant selection. Some of those have been covered in past articles here on TPJ, and some I’ll hit on in another article.

The biggie, always, is to go ahead and get started.

It doesn’t have to be big or pretty, but if we want to start producing our own food, we need to get started now. There are too many learning curves when it comes to gardening to wait until we have the perfect property, the perfect setup, and the perfect planters or plots.

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Outdoor Skills for All to Master

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: Another guest contribution from Gemma to The Prepper Journal.  As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, then enter today!

Hopefully, you never end up stranded in the wilderness, but it does happen, and if it does you need to know how to survive even in the harshest and cruelest conditions. There are a few basics that you need to live, and those are water, shelter, and food.

With these three things, you should be fine until help comes (or you find it), but a surprisingly large number of people don’t actually know how to live if they end up in a tricky situation. There are five key skills that every man and woman who is off hiking or camping should know, and this guide will take you through each of them.

Build a Fire

You need to be warm, especially when the cold nights hit, but fire also helps keep unwanted campsite guests away, so it can help to keep you safe too. Hypothermia is a real risk in the wild, and if your clothes are wet, then it is even more dangerous. Being able to build and light a fire (without a lighter) is a skill that you desperately need.

Make sure that the wood you collect is dry and thin to start with, as this will help the fire to grow. You can add thicker dry wood on later, but the kindling needs to be nice and slim. You can also use some dry grass and other soft material, as this is what is called a kindling nest.

Next, you can grab two sticks that are fairly strong. Create a notch in one of the sticks, place them together in the kindling nest, and rub them. The friction causes heat, which will the cause sparks. You can also use two sharp rocks and hit them together to create sparks if they are available.

Foraging

While it is true that people can live for weeks without food, it is still important to know how to gather your own out in the wild. You should spend some time learning about various berries and mushrooms so that you are able to determine which are safe to eat and which are poisonous in the wild as this is a great way to get prepared in advance.

Berries and green plants have very few calories in them, whereas fish and game have much more. Trapmaking for things like small animals might become necessary if you are stuck for some time, and it is possible to fish successfully by fashioning a spear from a long stick. If you are stranded in the wild, you will likely need more calories than normal to sustain your weight, and so berries and greens may not be enough.

You need to make sure you know what you are doing, so before you head out on any camping or hiking trip, you should do your homework and make sure that you have thoroughly researched everything. After all, you don’t want to end up stuck, starving, or possibly poisoned.

Finding and Purifying Water

Unlike food, you need water, and you can only survive for three days without it. Your body is 70% water, and it is the key component when it comes to how your body works. Without it, you cannot function. If your body’s water percentage becomes less than it should be, you will start to become dehydrated, and this is a process that can happen very quickly. Here are the symptoms of dehydration for you to keep behind your ear when you are out in the wild:

  • feeling thirsty (the first and most commonly ignored symptom)
  • mild headache
  • reduced urinary output
  • lethargy
  • the inability to perspire or produce tears
  • nausea
  • rapid heart rate
  • tingling of the skin
  • high body temperatures
  • hallucinations
  • heat exhaustion
  • and eventually death

Finding and purifying water literally is the difference between life and death, and this is how you get it done. If you find a spring or stream that is away from mankind and pollution, take the opportunity to fill up your water bottles while you can, and if you are concerned, you can boil the water before drinking to purify it.

In cold weather, you can collect snow, but should never eat the snow as it will lower your body temperature. Instead, collect and boil it for later consumption. You can sometimes find clean water underground as well, especially in dry riverbeds. If you are able to dig down, you can hit underground streams that provide you with clean, fresh, and untouched water to drink.

Never drink sea water or salt water of any kind as this will severely dehydrate you due to the amount of salt in it, and this also goes for sea snow and ice as well. You can boil it to remove the salt, but this should only be used as a last resort.

Navigation

Being lost can be a pretty terrifying experience, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Electronic GPS can fail, and so you should learn how to use a compass before you head out on any kind of adventure. Map reading is good too, but the compass is more robust and not damaged by adverse weather conditions. It’s an underrated survival skill that many seem to have forgotten about, and it is something we certainly take for granted. Learn the skill, you won’t regret it.

Building Shelter

You need to know how to keep out of the elements when you are stuck in the wild, and building shelter is the best way to achieve this. After all, there are plenty of weather conditions that we were not built to survive outside in such as:

  • freezing temperatures
  • sweltering heat
  • high winds
  • deep snow
  • driving sleet
  • heavy rains

Before you leave on your trip, you must learn about the area you are visiting and the kind of plant life that lives there. That way, you know the kind of debris that is going to be available for you to use. The most classic form of shelter is the spider shelter, and this is made by placing rows of thick sticks in an upright triangle and placing foliage all over it to create a seal.

Through this, you keep out of the wind and rain, and are also able to retain some warmth. It is also advisable to use foliage to keep yourself warm at night in cold conditions. Shelter is the thing you need to build first, and it is important that you learn how to build it effectively.

In Conclusion: There are plenty of survival skills that can benefit you in the wild, but these are the best and most important ones for your next trip. Hopefully, it has given you some insight and a better understanding of what you need to know in order to live. Always remember that shelter, food, and water come before anything else, read up on your survival knowledge, and you should be fine until help comes.

About the Author: Gemma Tyler is a freelance writer and blogger. You can keep up to date by following Gemma on Twitter, Facebook & Pinterest.

If you are interested in more information on outdoor clothing, footwear and accessories, then check out her ultimate welly boot guides for more details

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How to Choose the Best AR 15 Optics for Hunting

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A guest contribution from Brandon to The Prepper Journal. With the unending assault on the 200 million privately owned firearms in the United States and the revisionists view of our 2A rights being crucified in the media, I thought this timely as well as informative. The information below assumes a properly sighted in weapon as the base platform. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, then enter today!

Choosing the best optic for hunting with an AR 15 can be difficult depending on the ranges, terrain, and game you’re hunting. Here’s how to choose the right optic.

As more hunters choose to use AR 15 pattern rifles when it comes time for opening day, they are struck with important decision. Because the AR 15 was designed to use just about any optic that would fit on his top rail, hunters must decide which one is best.

Choosing the best hunting optic for AR-15 is largely a function of your hunting environment and personal preference. For most people, is going to pull down between using a magnified optic or red dot. Here are a few tips and tricks to guide you along the way between choosing a magnified optic or a red dot.

How to Choose Hunting Optics for AR-15 ?

Magnified Scopes

Magnified optics, also called scopes, simplify the aiming process by replacing the front and rear sight of a rifle with a set of crosshairs. They almost always add magnification to the equation as well. That magnification is normally the attraction that many people buy them for.

Having a telescopic, magnified optic in the field allows you to dial in the amount of power you need to view targets at extended ranges. It allows you to stretch out your rifle to the very edge of your cartridges ballistic potential, or your marksmanship ability.

It’s important to remember however, scopes do not help you shoot better and they are far from point and shoot affairs. Magnified optics allow you to see the target better, they don’t fix poor marksmanship habits. Magnified optics will not fix a bad trigger squeeze or even poor sight alignment.

All scopes suffer from parallax error. This is when you view the scope add an improper distance or improper angle. If you’ve ever looked through a scope and seen a black donut shape instead of cross-hairs, you know exactly what this is.

Many hunters are starting to realize that they don’t need as much magnification as they think and are flocking towards light and trim scopes that are easy to carry in the field. Depending on how much magnification you need, you may benefit from using a zero-magnification red dot.

Red Dots

Red dot optics have only a few advantages over magnified optics. Chiefly, their simplicity and ruggedness. Red dot optics are simple to choose, simple to operate, and very easy to shoot with. Very often, children learn to shoot with red dot optics because they are the easiest sighting system for people to learn to shoot firearms with.

When you mount a red dot on a rifle you are grossly simplifying the aiming process. Wherever the red dot is pointing when the trigger breaks, the bullet is going to hit. This is why they are so popular among competition shooters and militaries. They absolutely dominate shooting at moving targets and shooting in low light.

Under stressful situations, red dot optics are the king of marksmanship. Their main downside, however, is their lack of magnification. Once you add magnification to red dot optic you lose its point and shoot capability. Scopes must be properly aligned with your eye to work, just like iron sights.

That loss in magnification can lead to a loss in field precision because of nerves, weather conditions, or just poor marksmanship. If you have a new hunter or looking for an optic that is conducive for fast shooting at moderate distances nothing beats a red dot.

Ranges & Terrain

AR 15’s are particularly well-suited to situations where you will be hunting in heavy brush, or shooting at multiple targets. Hog hunting is a perfect example. Hog hunting typically takes place in swampy, thick brush areas where large rifles with large magnified optics can be as severe hindrance.

A slim and trim an AR 15 with a red dot is perfectly suited to taking out multiple hogs that are tearing up a food plot or decimating a garden. Same goes for groundhogs, multiple targets in a confined area. However, if you are going to be hunting groundhogs you’ll most likely be further away than if you are hunting hogs, most varmint hunters using AR 15s want a magnified optic.

Deer hunting with AR 15 is a touchy subject at best, and many hunters will find themselves in a wide variety of scenarios while hunting. While 99% of deer are taken within 300 yards, a range where red dot would be fine, many hunters would prefer a magnified optic if they were hunting a tree stand over been field. Most often it comes down to the terrain and ranges you will be hunting.

Game Animals

Along with the ranges and terrain that you are going to be hunting in, the game animal that you are hunting for is going to affect the type of optic you use on your AR 15 for hunting. Hog hunting, which typically takes place at ranges well within 100 yards, is not somewhere where you would need high magnification. Both because of the ranges, and the game you’re hunting.

However, hunting groundhogs typically happens within 200 yards, well within the distance you could use a red dot, but the game that you are hunting is much smaller. AR 15’s are particularly well-suited for hunting groundhogs and ground squirrels but need a magnified optic to really take advantage of their strengths because the game animal is tiny.

Take into account not only the ranges and drainage will be hunting in but also the size of the game and the precision needed. The further out you plan to hunt, the more precision you need for an ethical kill and the greater chance you’ll need magnification.

The Verdict

At the end of the day, the best optic for an AR 15 is the one that you choose to hunt with. The AR 15 makes a fine sporting rifle provided you chosen the correct caliber for the game that you are hunting. Having an optic on your upper receiver makes shooting easier and your rifle more effective regardless of the type you choose.

Whichever one you choose to hunt with, red dots or magnified scopes, remember to know it like the back of your hand well in advance of opening day. You don’t want to be known as the guy who missed his deer because he had to change his scope the night before the big hunt.

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Bags for Survival

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Written by John Hertig on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: Another guest contribution from John Hertig to The Prepper Journal. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, then enter today!

It seems that everybody (or nearly everybody) has heard of the “BOB” or “Bug Out Bag“.  Some may have heard of other “bags” and concluded they are all the same.  They are similar, but not the same.  The “bags” we will consider are:

EDC Every Day Carry

GHB Get Home Bag

GOODGet Out of Dodge bag

BOBBug Out Bag

INCH I’m Never Coming Home bag

and

Survival Kit

The Rule of Threes

Whenever thinking about survival, it is good to keep the “Rule of Threes” in mind.  This is a set of guideline about what can kill you fastest, and provides a guide for the priority of survival equipment and tasks.  Simply stated, this is:

In any extreme situation, a person usually cannot survive for more than:

– 3 minutes without air (or blood circulation or with arterial bleeding)

– 3 hours without shelter

– 3 days without water (or treatment for some medical conditions)

– 3 weeks without food

Note that lack of food will kill you just as dead as lack of air; it just takes longer.  That does not mean that considering food in your survival planning or tasks should not be done, just that it should not be done first.  Also, this is not a guarantee.  Depending on conditions, these problems could kill you sooner, or even later.  Again, this is merely a guide to priorities to be used in choosing equipment and supplies in advance of need, and scheduling tasks in an emergency situation.

Note that “darkness” is not on the list as a killer, but it kind of should be.  Not because darkness itself can harm you, but not being able to see what you are doing or where you are walking can kill or harm you.  A source of light should be high in every list of survival supplies.

Survival Kits

These are designed for PERSONAL emergencies, not major disasters affecting a large number of people.  As such, they should have a significant focus on signaling for help.  With good signaling capability, usually this situation will only last for a day or two, so your primary focus is on severe bleeding and shelter, with water and other medical supplies secondary.  Food should be a distant third priority.

A survival kit can fit in your pocket if there is very little chance you’ll need it (around town), in a belt pack if you are close to civilization, or in your backpack when you are really heading into the wilds.  In addition to light and signaling, it should include something which can be used to stop severe bleeding, and a way (better is a couple of ways) to start a fire and a basic sewing kit.  As space permits, add a “space blanket” or even better “bivy”, other materials to aid in building shelter from the elements, and then water purification tablets and a container to use them in, or a container in which to boil water.  And so on, until the likely scenarios are covered, or you reach your size goals.

Every Day Carry

This is what you “Carry” on your person “Every Day”, or at least whenever you leave your house.  It is not so much a “survival kit”‘ as a “life kit” with survival applications.  For more details, see the article on EDC.

Get Home Bag

If you are at work or shopping or otherwise not at home when disaster strikes, everyone in your family should have getting home as a priority.  That is where your primary preparations, or your means of getting to your primary preparations are located.  It is also a place where your loved ones are or can be.  You may be able to get in your car and drive home, but don’t bet your life or your family’s lives on that.  The car might not work, or the roads may be jammed or the bridge might be out.  You may need to “hoof it” home, and if you are not dressed or equipped for that trek, your odds of succeeding will be lower.

In the car is a good place for your GHB.  This will contain or be with the clothing and shoes you need to walk home in the most severe conditions likely, as well as PPG (Personal Protection Gear – air filtration mask, goggles, gloves and weather specific gear), an appropriate survival kit, and to the degree practical, defensive weaponry.  The survival kit need not be heavy on signaling gear, as in a wide-spread emergency, the odds of getting help are lower then usual, and the odds of attracting predators is increased.  A key aspect of your GHB is “knowledge” – knowing several routes home from wherever you happen to be, knowing which areas to avoid (gang territory, nuclear or chemical plants, flood or fire hazards and so on) and likely “choke points” where the disaster or human action can cut off or restrict travel.

Bug Out Bag

A lot of people talk about “bugging out” if there is a disaster.  And the bag of equipment and supplies they plan to take with them is called a BOB.  The problem is that many of these people don’t know the actual definition of “bugging out”.  It was originally a military term describing what happens when a position is in danger of being overrun by the enemy.  The personnel at the position are moved from there to another position which is currently safe(r).  The key here, is not the “leaving” but the having a safer destination.  Thus a “true” BOB is designed to specifically get you from where you are bugging out from, to where you are bugging out to. You may be able to do it by vehicle, in which case you can carry a lot more stuff.  In case you can’t go by vehicle or your vehicular movement is permanently interrupted, you should have an actual BOB, usually a backpack, which you can carry as you walk to your bug out location.  Ideally, you have supplies at that location, or you can carry them in the vehicle as long as you can and hopefully not have to abandon them.  If you are limited to a BOB, you won’t be able to carry long term supplies for your new location.

Unlike a survival kit, where you tend to stay put and wait for rescue, when bugging out, you will be on the move.  You’ll need lots of energy, so food is rather more important.  “Life boat rations” or energy bars are compact, or freeze-dried meals can be tasty and light but need cooking (water boiling) capability.  Of course, you still need first aid supplies, weather appropriate clothing and the capability of making shelter when you are not moving.  And water and the capability to get more.  Probably some defensive capability is in order.  Depending on the distance you need to go, you may not be able to carry enough stuff to get there, in which case you might need the capability to scavenge abandoned supplies.  See the article on scavenging. Another option is to set up “caches” of supplies along the way.

Unless you have a stocked location to bug out to, bugging out is not a good scenario, bordering on “fleeing”.

Get Out of Dodge Bag

This is something I came up with, or perhaps saw somewhere in the past.  No matter the source, this GOOD bag is what many people really mean when they talk about BOBs.  This is what I call a bag which is designed to make “fleeing” less of a disaster.  You don’t have a place to go to, but where you are is too dangerous to stay there, so you leave and search for a safer place.  Perhaps outside the disaster area, or a cave or some place which can provide you with shelter, water and food, and some isolation from predators.  As such, the contents are oriented towards short term movement, self defense and long-term acquisition of water and food from likely areas.  It’s a BOB without a designed schedule or destination.

I’m Never Coming Home Bag

I’ve heard of these, but can’t really understand why a person would have as a primary goal, never coming home.  Unless they were trying to avoid capture by people (the government perhaps) who knew where they lived and have the resources to wait there for them for a really long time.  In every case I can conceive of, I would hope that coming home eventually would be a possibility, unless there was a high probability that home wouldn’t be there.  Basically, I’d consider it a “minimal move”, so I would concentrate on what I needed short term, and what I could not replace long term.

How Many Bags Do I Need?

Ideally, since all of these bags (should) have different goals, you would have all of them available.  You leave the house, you have your EDC.  You step away from the pavement, you have a survival kit.  Something happens while you are away from home, you have your GHB.  And if you have to leave your home, you have either a GOOD bag or BOB depending on whether you have a location to go to.  If you are running from the mob or the law, or your house is about to be destroyed, you have your INCH bag.

The problem is, there is a high degree of commonality among these, and most people can’t afford the cost of all of these, or the space to store them, or the effort to keep them stocked with fresh items.  So lets consider how to minimize those factors.  One key is modularity.  If you have the items for each facet of your bags packaged separately, you can quickly assemble the needed bag.  It is best that your GHB stays in your vehicle, completely separate from your other bags.

First of all, EDC is a no-brainer.  Unless you spend all day on the couch in your underwear, you already HAVE an EDC kit of some sort.  The trick is to optimize it, not only for your life, but for emergencies.  Next you will want a decent survival kit which will fit into any of the other bags.  Because of how basic this is to all the bags and how much trouble it would be to move it around a lot, you might want to have at least two of these, one in your GHB in the car, and one or more in the house to go into whichever other bag it is needed for.  It is most convenient if these are identical; and since signaling is not a need in any but a personal survival event, you can save money by having a separate signaling module to add for non-disaster survival scenarios.  There is no reason to have both a GOOD bag and a BOB, since they have different, mutually exclusive goals, but having the appropriate one is critical, since no matter where you are, no matter what happens, you cannot guarantee that you can stay in your home.  Nature and/or man is entirely capable of making it unlivable.  Personally, I do not bother with an INCH bag, but I do have critical stuff in my BOB just in case my home is destroyed or stripped.

Don’t forget, each of these bags is for one person or possibly one person with a small child.  Each person in your group should have as similar a setup as they can carry.  If some members of your party are significantly less able to bear a load than others, you’ll have to “spread the load”, with the people who can carry more, carrying more.  Just make sure each person has enough to get by with in case they get separated from the group.  Make sure each person (this includes you) knows how to use the stuff they are carrying.

Choosing Your Bags

There are three components of any bag.  These are the bag itself, the contents of the bag, and the knowledge and experience to use the contents of the bag.

When choosing a bag, you need to consider size, weight, durability and long term comfort.  And there is another concern.  Keep in mind that YOU have made the effort to be prepared for this disaster, but a large percentage of the people around you have not.  And some of them are eager to, and some of them feel forced to, take advantage of your preparations for their profit or their family’s needs.  Thus, you want to remain as unnoticeable as possible, having a “gray man” persona.  Any pack you choose should have dull, unobtrusive colors, with no obvious brand name marks or designs.  For in-town use, you want to use packs like “everybody else” uses, and for bigger bags for out of town travel, ones which look “distressed” (dirty, duct tape “patches”).  Camouflage and black are “dull” colors, but they, as well as military style or “tacticool” packs, tend to bring to mind “government” or military, and everybody knows those guys are loaded with cool stuff.  Obviously, don’t have anything desirable or attractive hanging on the outside.  You don’t want to be noticed, and if you are noticed, you don’t want to be an (or the most) attractive target, and if you are a target, you don’t want to appear to be worth much effort.

Wrong!

There are two paths to follow:  you can find a pack you like and then put into it what you can, or you can figure out what you will carry, and then choose a bag which will hold it.  Either path will force you to make compromises.  I prefer to compromise on the bag rather than the contents.  In the case of a GHB or BOB you should have a good idea how long the trek is likely to take, and this allows a decent guess at what items and how many of each should be included.  All size estimates need to be accompanied by weight estimates.

When choosing a bag, size is the first concern, and that is determined by how much stuff you need to put into the bag.  Packs often are rated in “liters” which for the metrically challenged can be estimated by dividing them by four to approximate “gallons”.  If you have a guess at the size you will need, it is best to choose a pack which is a bit bigger, because you can put nine gallons into a ten-gallon container, but you can’t put eleven gallons into that container.  However, the bigger the bag, the more stuff you will be tempted to put into it, and the more it will weigh.  Be prepared to lower your size estimate if your weight estimate gets to be too high.

And that brings up the other key concern, the weight.  A person in good physical condition and trained up for it, can probably carry a load of 25% of their body weight.  People in poor condition will be able to carry less.  Keep in mind that pretty much anybody can carry more than they should, briefly.  But can they carry it all day, for several days sequentially?  Can they hike or climb uphill?  Are they able to avoid tripping, or developing foot or ankle injuries?  Can they run short distances?  Jump over narrow obstacles?  As you can see, ideal load weight is a matter of experimentation, and the entire party should work at increasing their capabilities.  But at any point in time, there is a practical maximum weight.  When you hit that, you have to stop packing things in.  If you don’t have enough stuff, you will have to exchange things already in there for things which are lighter (and probably more expensive).

Now that you have an adequate size and not too much weight, consider the comfort.  A pack which distributes the weight and rides well will make your trek less of a torture.  For a large pack such as a GOOD, INCH and most BOBs, you will want to transfer as much of the weight as possible to your hips.  This requires an internal or hybrid frame and a padded waist belt.  External frames should be avoided; they tend to get caught on things. and usually are less comfortable.  A few BOBs and many GHBs may not be that heavy and can get away with using a smaller, frameless pack.

Frankly, if you can find a pack which meets all these criteria, durability may not be a major concern.  The longer the trek and the more rugged the terrain, the more important it becomes.  Keep an eye out for the material.  Nylon, canvas and leather are durable; plastic and cloth are not as durable.  Thick is more durable than thin.  But thick and canvas and particularly leather tends to be heavy, and every extra pound the pack weighs is a pound of stuff you can’t carry.  Thus generally, a mid-weight nylon is best.  You want it to be water proof or highly water resistant or have a water proof cover.  If not truly water proof, make sure that any contents which can be affected by getting wet are packed in water proof bags and even if the pack IS waterproof, you want your critical stuff in their own waterproof protection.

Finally, there is organization.  Having everything you need is great, but being able to find it or access it as needed can be important.  A bag which has lots of pockets may be handy, but every pocket adds more material and thus more weight.  This is a trade-off, and fewer pockets can be somewhat compensated for by intelligent packing.  If you need something quickly, you want to get right to it, and if you use something a lot, you don’t want to take everything else out to get to it.

Maintaining Your Bags

As mentioned, your GHB is best kept in your vehicle, so you will always have it with you when not at home.  Except what if you are not taking your vehicle?  That is a conundrum, and assuming you “have” to go and can’t take your car, you have three options:  risk going without it, taking it with you, or taking a subset with you in your pockets or other containers.  As for your other bag(s) and modules, you need a storage location which is readily available but not in the way, protected from casual access, where they won’t get mixed in or blocked, and are not subjected to environmental extremes.

Some things you put in your bag(s) will have expiration dates.  You need to keep a record with each bag or module stating these dates, and it is a very good idea to put in fresh things before the old ones “expire”.  This usually does not mean they become useless or dangerous, so if you happen to be a month or two late, it’s not a big deal.  But going years past the date is not wise.  Be aware of the storage conditions where you keep each bag (most particularly the trunk of your car) and its effect on the items in the bag.

 

Finally, do NOT take stuff out of your bags for “temporary” use.  If you take something out of one of your bags, the odds that you will remember to put it back (and replace anything partially used up) are depressingly low.  Which reminds me.  I can’t tell you how many fancy flashlights I’ve lost to battery leakage.  Keep the batteries out of your emergency gear until the emergency happens or is right around the corner, or use lithium batteries, which so far have not leaked on me.

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Proportionate Preparation

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A guest post from Mathew Jamerson.

Like most preppers, I occasionally test out my preps. In this case I pulled my bug out gear together and wore it about the house for a bit, testing to see the weight impact of a few items I had recently added. And… it was a little heavy. Sure, I can change out some stuff and give more thought to what I really NEED in a bug out situation, but this activity got me thinking more broadly too. What is my proportionate response here? In my case I need to travel fair distance to get where I want to go, so I have some particular needs, but beyond that; what am I responding to?

Some of us might think (and I’ve seen other good articles on this here at The Prepper Journal) about ‘what is practical when it comes to prepping?’ Am I ‘tacticool’ or tactical? Do I think owning a Humvee is realistic when I have a family to support? Is a master medic bag, suitable for treating Ebola, really something that I can transport (let alone make use of, given my lack of medical training to utilize such a resource)? And so on.

But I want to talk even more broadly than that.

Every aspect of my prepping plans (and hopefully yours) should include an idea of what is proportionate to us (our individual abilities and limitations) and to what we are responding to (what limitations a particular crisis or crises will impose upon us). A simple example might be: my physical limitations are not necessarily shared by you, so I might be able to carry more (or less) than you on my back if we need to bug out. Something more specific might be: I am not planning for a bio hazard / chemical hazard of some sort (I’ve decided that it is too unlikely in my area vs the additional weight factor), so I don’t have MOPP gear in my bug out bag. Perhaps you do have MOPP gear but, put simply, it’s hard to prepare for every single eventuality all at once, have every base completely covered and carry it with you. One of the things that the National Geographic show got right was it asked each prepper what they were actually preparing for?

Now, apply that thinking more broadly and you’ll see more of what I am talking about.

Say you have a location you are bugging out to and it’s a nice big acreage where you can plant crops, see for large distances etc. Is it proportionate to what you can conceivably secure? Is it proportionate to what you need to survive in a crisis? If you’ve got lots of land you want to utilize then you are most likely going to have to patrol it to keep it secure, which is going to either require lots of time or lots of people to achieve good security. Even with technology assisting you (and tech is not necessarily going to be super reliable long term anyways – a subject for another time) like cameras and sensors, you still may need to respond to that interloper, not to mention the added risk of being a large visible target with notable resources.

I’ve gamed out a few examples in short here so that we can continue to apply this logic down on the line:

  • Is my food storage proportionate to what I need to feed myself and can I keep it secure without it spoiling? Am I likely to have to leave it all behind because it’s too much to carry?

You may love preserving food as a hobby and appreciate the security of the idea of lots of food in the pantry but what good will it do you unless you need to bug in? If you live in an inner urban population center (like most of us) then the transferable skill of preserving is the best you might be able to take away with you.

  • How likely is it that I will need to defend myself given my relative proximity to others / or where I need to bug out to?

How necessary is that .50 BMG? If you live away from others then you probably won’t encounter many other people. Generally speaking, unless you are Rambo, you should shy away from fights. Firearms are heavy, can be cumbersome and require the additional weight of ammunition. In arming yourself try to maximize the utility of your preparedness. Knives don’t run out of ammunition, can be used in conjunction with other available materials to make a spear, are lighter and are generally more useful than a firearm (not to mention quiet). It is worth asking ‘how likely is it you will encounter others with firearms?’ Whilst no one wants to be the knife wielder at gun fight, not everyone lives in places where everyone has easy access to firearms. To be clear; I am not saying don’t make firearms part of your preparedness, just think about what is a proportionate response to your circumstances.

  • Is stealth (a bike or walking) a better option than driving a noisy, large car full of supplies when I need to move?

Thinking about if motorised transport best addresses the proportions of your task is important. Do you need to travel a long distance and / or quickly travel? Again, avoiding conflict and staying out of the lime light is likely to get you much farther than presenting a visible target whilst barging through. In taking the back track you might need to travel farther but it could save you being injured or worse. If you are bugging out, the roads might not be clear enough to get a car of any sort through (especially in a metropolitan area) and you might get boxed in somewhere where there is a disturbance.

  • How long is the crisis I am planning for going to last before things get any better?

The amount (and type) of supplies, the necessity of the type of shelter, the distance you want to put between yourself and strife, perhaps even the makeup of your ‘team’; these are just some of the decisions informed by what you think might be the proportions of the catastrophe you are preparing for. You don’t NEED to dig a fallout shelter to protect yourself from a cyclone, for example.

Which leads me, finally, to: think about what you need, not what you like. A bunker lined with entertainment and luxury might be nice but that space would be better utilized by things you need; food and water for example, so your PlayStation might not make the cut. If you keep your preps proportionate to your needs then you’ll find they tend to also be more concealable, more practical, more manageable and more realistic to your budget.

Ask yourself: Is what I have prepared proportionate to my needs and a proportionate response to a given crisis? It would be nice to think we can prepare for anything and everything, all at once, but this is unlikely to be achievable for most of us, so making informed choices about what we can do is going to be a reality and should inform our preps for the future – whatever that future may look like.

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Preparedness on A Shoestring Budget

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Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: Don’t forget to vote in our current Prepper Journal Writing Contest!

Getting Gear

I will stand by physical fitness and know-how as two of the seriously overlooked areas in disaster preparation. They apply to all disasters; car accidents, annual storms, all the way up to whatever apocalypse you like. Even so, there are facets of preparedness that do require “stuff”. “Stuff” usually means spending. That can be a problem for beginners, for people trying to budget, and for preppers traveling when disaster strikes.

One way we can lower the burden on what must be bought is by taking a page from the homeless, the hobos of old, and modern hobos. Other times, we can cut costs by heading to a different “department” to get our survival and grid-down supplies.

Good gear matters. “Get good gear over cheap” is excellent advice. But sometimes, you don’t really need gear to be all that good. And sometimes, you don’t have to spend extra – or anything at all – to get perfectly serviceable preps.

Steel “Tin” Cans

It would be the rare soul who doesn’t run across any soup, fruit, veggie, bean, pie filling, or pasta sauce cans. If we don’t buy or use them often, we can probably score some from coworkers or family, or from along ditches, in recycling boxes, or near park campsites (those … mutter-mutter).

Cans can serve a lot of functions for us, from pots to filters to stoves.

So, first meal, eat one of the bigger cans of fruit or beans, and you can build from there. If you’ve got a hammer and nail, some wire off a chain link fence or from a coat hanger, or some light chain, you’ve got a billy pot for over campfires, on the grill, or over candles – or, a way to transport smoldering coals and save matches.

Give it a pinch at the lip using pliers, snips, or your thumb and a rock, hammer, or file, and you can dimple a pour spout and have a fancy kettle for your disaster cooking.

With the next can, make a water filter using rock and sand, with activated charcoal an ideal “bottom” layer. Pre-filtering will extend the working life of any “real” filters you have, or clarify your water before you boil it. Socks or a cleaned mayo or peanut butter tub can be used to transport your filter.

With your now-clean water and a can or two from the next meal, mix up some bannock to bake on tuna cans or make slicing loaves in bigger cans. Any packaged baking mix – muffins to cake to waffles, with or without yeast or beer for breads – can be used for bannock (or griddle cakes, if you have oil or Pam).

If you have a can that will fit over your pie plate (tuna can) or loaf pan (soups, fruit, tomatoes), you can bake faster and more evenly. Those covers help boil water or heat foods faster.

You can also use your tuna cans to poach foraged eggs or cuisses de grenouille, while your billy pot simmers your pine and creeping Charlie tea or dandelion and cattail soup.

If you have tin snips or good wire cutters (tin snips and wire cutters are really handy tools, period), the sky becomes the limit with your cans.

You can use smaller or cut-down cans for Crisco, alcohol, or oil-based stoves. Larger cans can be cut to sit overtop those, or used in conjunction with all kinds of candle stoves. You can also cut and bend larger tin cans, line with foil to hold campfire coals or charcoal, and add a light baker’s cooling rack, light grill rack, a chunk removed from a grocery buggy with wire cutters to make a grill. Rocket stoves are another option, and hugely efficient.

Cans are also handy to keep you from messing up good pots anytime you want to melt wax – like for waterproofing matches or fire starters or dipping candles – and can eliminate some of the scrubbing if you decide to render down small amounts of animal fats.

A Good Knife

When you shop or price-compare online, specifically eliminate “tactical” from your search results. Type it in your search engine: “tactical”. Pretty much always, but especially buying bags, boots, and knives, you pay for that word … without always getting extra quality with it.

Full disclosure: I love my Kershaw pocket knife, and I breathe a sigh of relief every time I unroll my Cabella’s butcher set. That said, my fishing kits all have box cutters from the Dollar Tree in them. They work well enough that as I sit in my current life spending $400 a month on Heartgard and NexGard to maintain my 18-36 month stash, I still have them in there.

Remember, an inexpensive fishing license is one of the reasons I can afford those dogs. It’s not like they’re not getting used.

My first camping-hunting-packing do-all blade was not from a sporting goods section, either. It was a scimitar-styled “cleaner” kitchen knife. I periodically find them as carving knives now. Blame it on habit, they’re my go-to – as is entertaining family and friends with samurai and pirate noises when I snag one.

It had a thick blade, a clip-point, and a full tang. I looked back and forth between the wooden handled kitchen knife and the equivalent “decent” (not “good”) woodsman knife, and I opted to pay half as much. Some cardboard, three buttons, dental floss, and $2 Goodwill cowboy boots, and I had a serviceable scabbard.

It feathered sticks, cut thick rope and cardboard, and butchered. I rarely baton wood, but I did use it to chip little V’s in the top and bottom of branches so I could “bounce-pull” or stomp-kick to break them.

Will today’s craftsmanship hold up the same? Probably not. Still, compare apples to apples the quality of steel, the tang and grip, and the versatility of shape you’re getting between kitchen and hunting or survival knives.

Dollar Tree Candles

We’ve all heard “you get what you pay for”. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes, though, what you’re paying for is a label or logo, marketing and advertising, and cart collectors (see Aldi’s business model). Sometimes, it’s worth “cheap”.

I buy Dollar Tree emergency candles, even though those are now 4.5-hour candles instead of 5-6 hour candles. They’re comparable to Coughlin’s emergency candles in scent, blackening, wick care, and flame steadiness, and I’ve never had them melt in whatever temp a black camper shell reaches when it’s 110 degrees outside.

I don’t buy their tea lights or votives. I don’t dislike them, I just buy bulk online. Wherever you get them, make sure the tea lights are the type with metal shells, not plastic. It’ll give you more versatility.

Dollar Tree also carries some pretty sizeable pillar and jar candles. I find them to be no shorter-lived or “sootier” than candles from Walmart or Bed, Bath & Beyond, just a whole lot less moolah.

Any of those candles can be used in conjunction with a tin can camping or emergency stove. You can use any of them to turn your oven into a stovetop during outages, or to bake in your toaster oven.

While you’re in the dollar store, don’t forget to check for a candle holder, hotplate (candle aisle) and oven mitt for your vehicle bag and your SIP/evac kit.

Other Dollar Tree Preps

If you shop at dollar stores, be aware of the unit-per-price locally and online, and the quality of items. Still, there are things at the Dollar Tree that I either can’t find elsewhere, would pay more, and that allow incremental purchases for tight budgets – and thus more well-rounded preparedness rather than a single outlay that only covers part of a need.

I wouldn’t buy duct tape, flashlights, foil, bandanas, q-tips or cotton balls for cleaning ears (they’re fine as a medical dabber or fire starter), or storage bags.

I’m not a fan of those green-lid Tupperware, either, but glance around them. There’s Betty Crocker storage tubs in a variety of sizes that do live a nice, long time and seal well. That’s an excellent way to keep various kits organized and dry, and way cheaper than Walmart.

I can spend 1.5-4x as much on shelf-stable pepperoni and salami, or a buck a pop on the same size/weight product. Same goes for some of the canned goods, soaps, and long sheaves of cleaning sponges. For the most part, the jute for garden, gift wrap, or wick or fire-starter use is fine – no need to spend more. Flip side: I don’t buy rope or bungees at dollar stores.

I’d rather see somebody with $20 and 3-5 family members get ten sets of jersey “liners” and leather “shells” than only 1-3 pairs of better gloves, total.

In other cases, I don’t actually need items to be of lasting quality. If I’m working through a short-term emergency, Dollar Tree aluminum bread and pie pans work just fine to keep candles from spilling and shelter them from drafts.

For cakes, starting a campfire, or inside a tin can or jar to burn off some dampness and chill in a survival shelter, Dollar Tree birthday candles do us just fine – they’re only getting used twice, at most (I reuse birthday cake candles in my bags and fire kits). Why spend more?

Bootstrap Preparedness

Check out news features about modern hobos for some of their survival tips. Even when it’s not a focus, there are clues for living with little or no income. Another major source for eliminating and reducing costs are curbside pickups.

A used or wrecked kiddie pool can become stash-back water catchment or a tarp. The “shrink wrap” thrown away after winterizing boats and unwrapping pallets has tons of applications. Plants have no idea if they’re growing in a $15-50 pot or a free trash can, storage tote, or filing cabinet drawer. They don’t know you got their mulch by raking pine straw instead of buying it, or that their weed barrier and your fire starter is cardboard from a liquor store or moving company.

There are lots of ways we can cut the cost of preparedness and hit bare minimums. It lets us expand elsewhere and buy some breathing room, without leaving us vulnerable in the meantime.

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Disaster Preparation: How to Prepare Your Home For An Emergency

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A guest post from Herman Davis to The Prepper Journal. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly receive a $25 cash award as well as be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today! 

As most people know, disasters can strike without warning in a matter of minutes. In 2011, for example, the United States set a historic record for disaster alerts, according to the Homeland Security News Wire. The article also reported that each disaster that occurred that year was valued at approximately $12 billion in damage. This means that throughout 2011, the total damage accounted for was about $53 billion.

With that being said, disaster-proofing your home allows homeowners to prepare ahead of time — avoiding the worst possible outcome like losing prized possessions, or fatalities. So by preparing your home in advance, homeowners will be able to strengthen the foundation of their home and be better able to withstand the harsh environments natural disasters bring, enabling you and your family members to take the necessary actions needed to ensure you both survive the battle.

Although it’s nearly impossible to fully mitigate the dangers brought on by natural disasters, there are steps families can take towards reducing the amount of internal destruction done — both mentally and physically. Preparing ahead of time will not only protect your home, but protect your finances as well.

Getting the Right Kind of Protection: Although filling a property insurance claim might seem straightforward, if you wait until after a natural disaster to research the ins and outs, you might very well find yourself in a frustrating insurance battle.  Perhaps the most important step is making sure you’re covered before disaster strikes. Once you’ve had the opportunity to take a good look at your homeowner’s insurance policies and speak with other residents in the area, you might soon realize that the plan you chose isn’t beneficial for your family.  When it comes to natural disasters – like flash floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes —  the type of insurance plan available is essential to your homes well being. In this case, it’s always better to have too much protection and not use it than to have not enough and need it later on down the road. That said, it’s never a bad idea to purchase additional coverage – if it fits within your budget – to cover your home from all the different potential dangers out there. Also note that items like expensive jewelry, art and furniture need to be specified in the coverage and documented with photos and receipts. That $95,000 Steinway Concert Grand piano in the Music Room could translate into a used upright in the flash of an eye.

     

Generally speaking, earthquake insurance can cost anywhere from $100 to $3,000 depending on where you live. Flood insurance, on the other hand, usually costs about $570 annually. If you do decide not to purchase additional coverage, just make sure that you’ve saved a fair amount of money for out of pocket expenses on your home in the aftermath of things.

Make Good Use of Extra Space: Learning to think outside the box is critical when it comes to disaster-proofing your home. Normally, when most people think of emergency supplies for disasters, they typically go for the water containers, canned food, and clothing items. They don’t, however, think about the possibilities that can happen around the house. Power outages, for instance, are a common occurrence when floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and even earthquakes strike, and not having power can become a problem if the temperature outside is too hot or too cold.

  

So, if you have empty space around your home, freeze water when the power’s no longer accessible. If it’s extremely hot outside and the powers out, gather the ice from the freezer and place it in a bag to help you cool off. It might just help avoid a heat stroke.

Prepare a Family Emergency Kit: According to Eastern Kentucky University, over 139 million are affected by natural disasters. That said, it’s important to keep enough supplies in your home to meet the needs of you and your family members for at least 72 hours. Assembling an emergency family kit with items already stored in it is essential for everyone in the house in case you’re forced to evacuate the area immediately. Make sure you store your supplies in a sturdy, easy-to-carry container, like a suitcase, duffel bag, or storage container. You should also make sure that your container is able to carry the minimum:

  • Water (two gallons per person)
  • Food for at least three days
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight with extra batteries – this will help signal for help if you’re stranded
  • Pet food and extra water
  • Important family documents
  • Cash

Inspect the Parameters Around Your Home: In order to make sure your home is completely disaster proof, it’s best to secure the outdoor items – like bicycles, lawn furniture, and playground equipment. That’s because when objects are thrown around from high winds generated from the disaster, they can cause damage to the home by breaking windows, lights, and possibly even hit someone.

Check Your Generators: If you’re looking to rent or buy a generator, you should first get yourself familiar with it. While generators are important to have when the power goes out, it’s important to know that they can’t survive everything. That said, when it’s not in use, make sure you remember to unplug it. This will help prevent premature wear-and-tear on the equipment and lessen the risk that it becomes a causality of the disaster.

In the end, don’t always expect everything to go according to plan. In fact, you should always set aside other alternatives just in case the first option doesn’t work out. Remember to always be on guard when it comes to protecting your home and your family. That way, you won’t have any regrets later on.

Thanks for the read! With so many things to consider when preparing your home for a disaster I couldn’t possibly list them all. So, I turn to you, the readers. What are so other ways homeowners can prep their homes for an emergency before it’s too late?

Herman Davis loves exploring the outdoors and being active. If you can’t catch him online reading, you might be able to catch him out playing football with friends or cheering on the Boise State Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at @Davis241. Thanks!

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Hardscaping Projects for Your Backyard

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: Another guest post from Valknut79 to The Prepper Journal. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly receive a $25 cash award as well as be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today!

Your home should be your castle. For all the talk in the preparedness community about bugging out and heading for the country, unless your home is under direct attack, it is a far better plan to attempt to stay at home. It’s where your food supply is, it’s where your clothes and your tools are, and hopefully you have a solid, dependable roof over your head.

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The fall and winter is usually the last time that you’d think about your outdoor areas, but it’s the ideal time to start planning for what you can do this spring and summer to help improve your home’s preparedness plan. Here are some great features to consider when creating your plan:

Food & Water Storage

Your backyard might not be the first place you think of when you start considering food and water storage, but it’s actually quite convenient.

The ideal food storage idea you can have in your backyard is a root cellar. If you’re creating a big one, you simply need to dig a large hole, build supports for the wall, and set up some form of ceiling with an air flow, add an entrance, and you have a walk-in storage solution for many of your vegetables that will keep your produce cool for the season.

Smaller root cellars can be as simple as burying a cooler in a shady spot, or digging a hole and covering the area with something. These are not the greatest or largest solutions, but they’ll work in a pinch.

Putting a survival cache in your own tree is also an option. PVC pip can be used to create an airtight seal that can contain anything you think you might need in order to survive. What’s nice about the cache is that in case of a fire, flood, or home invasion, at least you’ll have something you can use to get you through a tough time.

For Water Storage, a cistern is an excellent solution. Cisterns are usually buried under your lawn, but could be free-standing. In either case, this is something you likely will want to have professionally installed, as mistakes could lead to thousands of gallons of water flooding your property. Either way, these large storage tanks take much of the guesswork out of storing water for an SHTF situation, and are made large enough that they will be useful as water for people, plants and cleanliness.

If not a large cistern, then how about a rain barrel connected to your gutter system. When well managed, rain barrels are a great method of securing a source of water for your survival garden at least, and for your family in a pinch.

You could also consider installing a pond or large fountain, which would be the most scenic water storage choice, although likely the least practical for usage, as the water would require a more significant filtering and cleaning process before use.

Living Space

This past summer, when considering my preparedness plan, I noted that one thing we really needed was a redundant way to cook our food. We have gas appliances in our home, and I have a propane tank attached to the grill outside, but otherwise, we had no dedicated space or method for cooking. We solved this by putting a firepit in our backyard, along with a simple firewood storage box to keep nearby. Now we have a dedicated cooking area that will last as long as we keep getting branches from our trees (in other words, forever).

 

We ended up using our firepit so much that I installed a pergola, a few garden trellis walls, and a patio stone floor, and now we have almost a “room” outside where we can cool off, warm up, or camp out quite easily with minimal equipment. I’d feel comfortable out there with just a blanket if the weather permits.

My wife and I also like to adapt the kid’s stuff towards preparedness in some way. Our daughter’s play area includes a triangular set of trellises, and during the summer months, we plant pole beans around them to create a kind of teepee. Her tire swing and treehouse are built into our sugar maple, which we tap annually for syrup. She also has a small playhouse with a few built-in planters outside and a living roof that has a few herbs growing on top.

If you have the space for a shed, you could easily build one of those as a guest house, useful for storage, and if it’s far enough away from your main home, an easy bug out location on the premises in case of fire, flood or other catastrophe.

Food Growth & Gardening

Of course, in an SHTF situation, your backyard will serve as your grocery store. Raised plant beds are easy to install in any grassy area, and are perfect for growing all manner of veggies. Simply purchase the wood or bricks you wish to use, and lay them out in the area you choose. Build the wall at least four to six inches deep, and you’ll have enough soil to grow a bunch of different veggies in. If you want to go the extra mile and put landscaping fabric underneath, that may help control weeds, but it’s not necessary, and many people (myself included) have had mixed results.

In addition to raised beds, you can consider creating miniature greenhouses. Build a box with a glass or plastic lid that can be easily raised or propped open so you can work in it, and ensure that that area gets plenty of light. During the winter months, you can plant a large number of vines or crops in these mini greenhouses that can provide fresh foods year round. This is also an ideal spot to start your seedlings in spring.

Once the end of the growing season hits, you’ll be very thankful if you created a compost pile where you can get free dirt and fertilizer. Enclosed three-bin systems are very easy to build, and provide the easiest long-term plan for gathering compost, but a simple garbage can purchased from the hardware store can function as a tumbler. Some people I know don’t even have bins, they simply have a pile covered with a tarp or wrapped in chicken wire. Compost is excellent for growing crops and a good way to reduce the amount of garbage you throw away every week.

In case you don’t have a lot of room, there’s still plenty you can do to garden. It’s possible to grow fruit trees in large pots, or if you have even a little room for planting in ground, you can maximize space by growing vine plants like cucumbers, pole beans and squash on trellises. Espalier is a method of growing a fruit tree next to a wall, and is ideal for creating a smaller fruit tree that actually makes very large and wholesome fruits in a small area. Arbors also work for maintaining a small tree in a controlled area. This method works best for pear plants and apples. It’s easy to grow many veggies in pots as well.

If you have the space and the equipment, there is no better “greenhouse” solution than a Walipini. A Walipini is a dug out section of earth that is enclosed with a clear plastic or glass roof. Underneath, you have a 12-month greenhouse that can help your plants endure in any climate. A traditional greenhouse is an option as well, but may not offer the 12-month guarantee of a Walipini.

We got most of our ideas for our backyard from two sources – Pinterest and our local botanic gardens. Both of these options offer a wide variety of alternative options for growing plants, and their hardscapes are not only beautiful, but often have tutorials attached.

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What About BOB?

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A guest post from SignalSergeant to The Prepper Journal. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly receive a $25 cash award as well as be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today! 

Let’s start with the basics!
Congratulations! You made it this far, and you have decided to take the first step towards disaster preparation and, perhaps, a little peace of mind. No matter how far you decide to ultimately take your disaster preparedness, the one piece of gear that you will always keep close at hand will be your 72-hour pack, commonly known as a “Bug-Out Bag” (BOB).

Important: Each family member should have their own bag! This includes pets. Your Chihuahua or Pomeranian obviously won’t be able to carry their own pack, but you don’t want to have their kibble mixed in with your powdered eggs, so make a separate bag for your fur babies.

Build or Buy?


The first BOBs that my wife and I put together were completely DIY. We scrounged around the house and garage, looking for any serviceable backpack, and then we put together our own checklist of items. We compiled the checklist from multiple sources, using common sense as a filter. We purchased all the items at Walmart and local dollar stores. The backpacks themselves were leftovers from when our kids were in school. If a pack is tough enough to survive a few semesters with a teenager while loaded with books, it will probably survive almost anything. We still have those packs, several years later (although we check the contents and replace the food items on a regular basis). Look for backpacks made from sturdy Cordura nylon, with heavy stitching and reinforced seams. If you don’t have any backpacks lying around, and you can’t afford new high-quality packs, then look at what you do have. Most households have small travel bags or perhaps hard-sided carry-on luggage (the kind with wheels and the telescoping handle). While not ideal, anything is better than no BOB at all.

 

Recently, we purchased a couple ready-made 72-hour packs from an online retailer. We were disappointed in the materials used in the backpacks, and many of the “survival” items were of such poor quality that they would never survive the first use. While I’m certain that good quality, ready-made BOB’s are out there, buyer beware! If you go the ready-made route, look for reviews and do your homework. Remember, if you need this BOB in an emergency, your life and the lives of your loved ones may literally depend on it. Also, no matter how good a ready-made solution is, you still must flesh it out with your own personal items such as medications, specific first-aid items, socks, undergarments, etc.
Key takeaway: If you are willing to put some time and effort into it, you can build your own bag/kit with better quality items, and have it tailored to your own specific needs.
You have a pack, now what do you put in it?

I mentioned customizing your pack with items specific to you, your climate, and your medical needs. With that said, there are a few broad categories of items that are universal.

Food
I will cover food in detail in another post, but for now, look for food that has a long shelf life, sturdy packaging, won’t attract vermin or breed bacteria, and is easy to prepare. You can find suitable food items in the camping section of most stores. Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s) are good, although they are heavy and take up a lot of space. Remember, you’re looking for emergency fuel for your body, not gourmet meals.

Sanitation


Don’t become ill from ingesting microbes carried on your hands. Make sure your BOB contains a small amount of toilet paper, travel-size bottles of hand sanitizer, and baby wipes. Include some basic hygiene items such as a toothbrush and toothpaste. I have spent a few weeks at a time in the field with the military, and sometimes being able to brush my teeth made me feel almost as good as a hot shower. Cleanliness is not just a good idea from a health standpoint, it can also boost your spirits. Note: A change of socks and underwear is also recommended.

Survival Items
These are the basics: Water, fire, shelter, first aid, and knives. Yes, I said “knives”, plural. Knives are incredibly versatile and useful, and they are also easily lost, sometimes broken, and often stolen by the unscrupulous. Water is first on the list for a reason: You can survive for 3 weeks without food (granted, 3 MISERABLE weeks), but only about 3 DAYS without water (depending on climate). Also, have multiple sources for starting a fire. Waterproof matches, butane lighters, or those magnesium fire-starters are all excellent choices. Shelter, at a minimum, should consist of a metallized emergency blanket. A basic first aid kit is a good starting point, but look at augmenting it with additional bandages and antibiotic ointment. Include a good quality first aid manual along with your medical supplies. Another key item is a “survival radio”. These emergency radios are powered with a hand crank and do not require batteries. A quick look on Amazon yielded several in the $20 price range. Just look at the reviews, and pick one that is both compact and durable.

Personal Protection
Your bag should include one or more self-defense items WITH WHICH YOU ARE COMFORTABLE. Pack a loaded firearm if you are: 1. Proficient in its use, 2. Know how to maintain it, and 3. Know how to keep it safe. I do not advise anyone to purchase a firearm if they are not willing to master all three of the above skills. I will go into selection of a personal defense weapon in detail in another post. If a firearm is not an option, then consider pepper spray, a machete, or whatever you are comfortable with, but don’t spend a lot as someone who has mastered all three will be taking them from you, along with anything else of yours they might want. Also, communication is an important form of security. Pack a spare cell phone, charger, solar-powered recharger and a backup copy of emergency contact numbers if possible. And a radio, a ham radio, and know how to use it.

Entertainment
We used to joke that war consists of long periods of soul-crushing boredom punctuated by brief moments of abject terror. The same could be said for survival situations. Boredom can be an even bigger issue if you have kids. It’s important to have some form of distraction for mental health purposes. Items that are easy to pack include: A deck of cards, small notebooks and pencils, a paperback book, iPod and ear buds, and a handful of Sharpie markers.

Conclusion
Consider the above to be the bare minimum. However, this is a great start! You will gain confidence and peace of mind by having supplies and a solid plan in place. Finally, there is safety in numbers! Include your friends and family in your plans, and help them with a little preparedness of their own. We all have health insurance, car insurance, and homeowner’s or renter’s insurance. Don’t you owe it to yourself and your family to have a little disaster insurance?

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The Forgotten Cheesecloth

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: A guest post from VGH to The Prepper Journal. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly receive a $25 cash award as well as be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today!

When the Holidays are looming, this item is searched for with a great deal of anxiety. Not thought about the whole year long, suddenly it becomes seriously important. What is it? Cheesecloth. Poor cheesecloth, used for holiday soups as a holder of herbs. Then either thrown away or lost in that draw you never look in, until next year. (Guilty as charged). Why? It’s so much more than that. Besides being about the weight of two feathers (Real feathers, not those ones you get at the sports store. That’s just wrong). Fold it up into almost nothing. It’s reusable, and very handy to have if your fishing, hunting, camping, or running for the hills. The versatility simply never ends.


Cheese Making: Some animals produce milk that is not flavorful. In a lot of cases you can use herbs to produce a tasty cheese, for yourself or for barter. It’s easy to make small quantities at a time. All you need is:
About a gallon of milk
2 or 3 lemons, juiced
Herbs and a little Salt
Bring milk to a boil and add lemon juice, while stirring. The milk should form curds immediately. Have ready a piece of cheesecloth folded three times in a bowl, if you have one. Pour the curds over the cheesecloth to strain them. Sprinkle with you herbs and a small amount of salt if you like. Twist the cheesecloth into a tight ball, to get rid of all the liquid (Whey – it’s a yellow-greenish color). Tie off and let dry. You can crumble or slice over your preferred system of delivery. (When at home, I save the Whey to use as a substitute for water in baking, works well in bread). Yes, you can make bread in cans next to your fire. Nice.

Head and Face Covering: Yes, when folded in half, cheesecloth can and will keep bugs off your face and out of your ears. (If the bugs are big enough you have bait for fishing. It’s hilarious watching your partner trying to pull them out of the cheesecloth. I suggest you do it as you’re running away).

Jerky Covering: When you must make jerky on the fly, or just because it doesn’t weigh as much dried. (I explained that to my partner, over and over. Finally, just did it myself to prove the point. No Brownie points given) Set it out in the sun on woven sticks and put the cheesecloth over the top of it. Keeps out all those pesky flies.

Gauze: Makes a nice airy bandage that flexes with movement. Keeps out all those pesky flies and dirt (unless you fall down a lot).

Window Screens: Pretty much is self-explaining. But, if you cut strips of plastic and weave them into the cheesecloth, makes a good curtain.

Book Bindings: (It’s called Scrim, you those of you that like official stuff, like my partner, bless his soul). If you mix flour and water to a paste, you can dip your cheesecloth into it to cover. Let dry, it will reinforce most papers or broken books. (You know the one you threw across the campsite because the main character ticked you off?)

Flags: For those times when you want to get your partners attention without speaking. Like after a disagreement or just because. (My favorite).

Bathing Suit: Ok, I made this one up. It worked well when I went swimming. My partner suddenly forgave me for talking while fishing. (It was a stream, for crying out loud, it was already noisy).

Fishing Net: To catch fish swimming in a corner resting stop. (I didn’t make that one up, my partner did) Or, as a bag to carry the fish to the campfire or the bear, whichever comes first. (Yes, that did happen. I have never climbed anything so fast in my life, my partner didn’t appreciate, though. Said I was supposed to climb the tree. I figured if I climb him first, I’d have a few extra minutes).

Ornaments: If for some stupid reason you are in the woods, and it’s Halloween. (Unless of course, you have to be there because some idiot pushed the button). It makes good spider webs for that Halloween feeling. Make sure you leave it there. It’s probably already infested with spiders (they like a day off, too). Or to just freak the person out that’s been following you for three days. (They didn’t know where they were, forgot to bring a deck of cards with them. Believed that if they played solitaire, someone would come by to help move the cards around. Idiot.)

Water Filtration: Get the finest weave you can, and fold it a bunch of times anyway. (Someone at our campsite tried to use it without folding. Couldn’t figure out where all the little tiny rocks came from). Remember, to leave the campsite before laughing.

Dust/Contamination Mask: Fold it just enough to keep the dust out or you may find it hard to breath. (I asked my partner why he was breathing so hard. I thought he was dreaming again, he said no, but his face was red).

Camo-Netting: Because, you know the planes fly lower so they can see you. Please remember to dye it by rolling it in the mud. For some reason, white doesn’t work. (Also, you need large quantities for coverage, just run down to the corner store. That’ll work).

Abrasive Material: Make a bag, and stuff it with sand and sharp rocks. Works well at cleaning pans, knives, shaping arrows (If you have a bow. I think that’s a requirement), polishing the bottom of a can to make a mirror, and finally for throwing at your partner. (It works, for any reason you want, it works).


So, to wrap it up. Thank you for reading my ranting, reminder of cheesecloth. Oh, and my partner wants to put his twenty-five cents worth (It’s all I let him carry, he has holes in his pockets, we walk into a sports store and suddenly it’s all gone), in. He has asked me to tell you that it works for making tofu. I sometimes question his sanity. Well more than sometimes.

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Introduction to Nuclear Survival

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Written by John Hertig on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: Another guest post from John Hertig to The Prepper Journal. An in-depth piece on understanding this as the world deals with China’s Junk-Yard Dog for the first time as opposed to the continued appeasement of Administrations past, since 1952.

When I was growing up, nuclear war was a “real thing”.  We practiced getting under our little school desks, because they apparently had built in blast and radiation shields.  🙂  Then the Soviet Union threat “evaporated” and suddenly nuclear war was no longer a serious threat.  But now we have that lunatic in tiny North Korea making serious (nuclear) threats against the still somewhat significant United States.  And if he can’t do what he threatens today, he is working his people slavishly to be able to do it “next week”.  Hopefully the threats are a way to keep his people under control and/or extort stuff out of us, and he is not insane enough to think he could survive an attack on us (and hopefully we are willing and able to ensure he does not survive an attack on us).  And hopefully he is not insane enough to not care if he dies (we know he doesn’t care if many of his subjects die).  But that level of insanity does exist, so there is always a chance he would send nuclear bombs our way.

What if he does?  How do we survive?

If we are near enough to a blast, we won’t survive or will be in serious trouble.  How near is that?  That depends on a number of factors.  Perhaps the three most important factors are weather, the size of the bomb, and how far above ground it detonates.  “Size” is actually the explosive force, and it is measured in “kilotons”.  One kiloton is the equivalent power of 1000 tons of dynamite.  North Korea just tested a “hydrogen” bomb (“thermonuclear”, a fusion reaction instead of the fission reaction used by nuclear weapons) and claimed it was “150kt”.  For a 150kt ground burst, there will be a fireball which would tend to incinerate things within a third of a mile.  Then there will be the blast which would tend to shred or flatten things; at a mile and a half away, most common construction residential houses would still be flattened, which could injure or kill those inside.  Heat from the explosion could still cause first degree burns (think “sunburn”) five and a quarter miles away; closer, of course, there would likely be second and even third degree burns.  Then there is the light; looking at the flash of the explosion can blind you temporarily and if you are actually focused on it, perhaps permanently.  It is not that fire, blast, light and heat are missing from a non-nuclear explosion; it is that they are so much less intense.  Remember, nuclear weapons are rated in 1000’s of TONs of dynamite.  And then there is the special gift of nuclear explosions – a buffet of radiation emitted and radioactivity imposed on matter.  Fatal (for 50% of those exposed, without medical attention) radiation emitted by the blast would reach out 1.2 miles as well and dangerous amounts of radioactive particles could surf the winds much further for a period of time after the blast.  A bigger bomb would have further reaching effects of course.  China has 5mt (megaton, 1,000,000 tons of dynamite) warheads and Russia has tested a 50mt bomb, but it is to be hoped that North Korea can not achieve that level in the near future.

The military often prefers to set for an air burst, as the immediate effects have a greater range.  If high enough that the fireball does not touch the ground, there is much less fallout, since pretty much any particulates would have to come from the device itself.  The naturally radioactive isotopes would tend to get into the stratosphere rather than “falling” locally, resulting in a low intensity, long lived, worldwide problem.

Note that a nuclear explosion will produce an “EMP” (Electro Magnetic Pulse) which will bring down the electrical system and fry some electrical and electronic devices.  The higher above ground the explosion is, the wider the area affected by the EMP.

Radiation

There is a difference between “radiation” and “radioactive”.  Radiation is ENERGY which is radiated (as “rays”).  X-Rays are radiation, and for that matter, so is light.  Radioactive refers to something which is emitting radiation, such as a naturally radioactive substance, or material which has had radioactivity imposed on it, such as fallout.  Much of the radiation from fallout is a combination of “alpha” and “beta” particles, and “gamma” radiation.  Alpha particles are very dangerous if the particle (an ejected helium nucleus) is breathed or eaten or gets in an open wound, but the effects from this particle can be blocked by a sheet of paper and often cannot even penetrate intact skin.  Beta particles are moderately dangerous if the particle (an ejected electron) gets inside the body, and its effects can penetrate and damage the skin if the particles are in contact with the skin for any length of time, but normal clothing will provide decent protection from beta as well as alpha particles for a while.  Gamma radiation is equally as harmful as beta, but very much more penetrating.  “Good” protection from gamma radiation is provided by 4 inches of lead, 10 inches of steel, 24 inches of concrete, 36 inches of dirt, 72 inches of water, 110 inches of wood, 5000 feet of air or some combination of materials.  This “safe” protection is computed by using the “halving thickness” of each material (how thick it has to be to cut the radiation intensity in half) between you and the radiation source, with a goal of having 10 halving thicknesses total, reducing the gamma ray intensity to a 1024th (2 to the 10th power) of its original strength.

A little radiation is considered “normal” and won’t hurt you much; typical background radiation and normal medical/dental uses on average takes 18 days off a person’s life.  Whereas a lot of radiation is bad news and the effects are short term.  We need to know how radiation levels are specified in order to understand which levels are of concern short term and which have only “minor” long term effects (increased risk of cancer).  Annoyingly, there are several different but inter-related measurements, which can be remembered by the mnemonic “READ”.  The most basic measure of Radiation is the “intensity” (number of atoms which decay in a given period of time) specified in curies (Ci, English) or becquerel (Bq, metric).  Bigger values are of more concern than smaller values, but this measurement is primarily of interest to those working with radioactive materials.  Exposure describes the amount of radiation traveling through the air, which many radiation meters are capable of measuring.  The units for exposure are the English measure roentgen (R) and the coulomb/kilogram (C/kg).  This is an instantaneous measurement; more useful is roentgen per hour.  Absorbed dose describes the amount of radiation absorbed by an object or person, with units “radiation absorbed dose” (rad) and gray (Gy).  And then there is the Dose equivalent (or effective dose) which combines the amount of radiation absorbed with the medical effects of that type of radiation. Units for dose equivalent are the “roentgen equivalent man” (rem) and sievert (Sv).  Smaller measurements are commonly displayed with a 1/1000th prefix (milli, for instance mR/h) or a 1/1,000,000th prefix (micro, for instance uSv).

When looking into radiation measurements, you are likely to run into R, rad, rem, Gy and Sv as well as /h (per hour) measurements of each of these, which can get confusing.  The ones which are displayed by your meter or dosimeter are the ones of most importance to you, of course.  The three brands of meters I have tried all have mR/h and uSv/h, which are both handy measurements and seemingly the most commonly used.  R/h is good to see how much radiation is present around you and Sv for how much you or others around you have been exposed to (your radiation exposure risk).  Here is how these measurements are related:

– rad and Gy are directly related; 1 rad = .01 Gy and 1 Gy = 100 rad

– rem and Sv are directly related; 1 rem = .01 Sv and 1 Sv = 100 rem

Beta, gamma and X-Ray radiations all do the same “base” level of damage to the human body, while neutron radiation does 10 times the damage and alpha radiation does 20 times the damage.

– For beta, gamma and X-Ray radiations, 1 rem = 1 rad and 1 Sv = 1 Gy

– For neutron radiation, 1 rem = .1 rad and 1 rad = 10 rem and 1 Sv = .1 Gy and 1 Gy = 10 Sv

– For alpha radiation, 1 rem = .05 rad and 1 rad = 20 rem and 1 Sv = .05 Gy and 1 Gy = 20 Sv

R is a measurement of radiation radiating through the air, such as gamma or X-Ray.  The other units are a measurement of absorption of radiation.  Each material absorbs radiation at a different rate, so there is not a standard conversion factor.

– In air, 1 R = .877 rad and 1 rad = 1.14 R

– In soft tissue, 1 R = usually between .92 and .96 rad

My meters also have CPM (Counts Per Minute) and CPS (Counts Per Second), which is an indication of the number of ionization events from alpha and beta particles.  A few counts per time period is better than many counts during the same time period, but there is no universal conversion to a “useful” measurement as these measurements vary based on how the instrument is calibrated.  As an example, calibrated to the commonly used Cesium 137, 120 CPM is equivalent to 1 uSv/hr.

Radiation can cause effects from unnoticeable (increased chance of cancer) through illness, severe damage to the body, and death.  A single (short term) dose of 1000 mSv (1 Sv, 100 rem) will cause radiation sickness but does not (directly) cause death (although 5% of people so exposed will develop fatal cancer later).  5 Sv or 500 rem will tend to be fatal within a month without medical care for 50% of the people so exposed, and 10 Sv or 1000 rem will often be fatal within weeks.

Surviving the explosion

Let’s face it, if you are “close” to a nuclear explosion, you are going to be dead, or probably wishing you were dead.  The only way to minimize the chances of this is to build or have built your own “bomb shelter” or have access to one.  And know far enough in advance that the blast may be coming so you can be in the shelter when the blast occurs. This is not a trivial prep, either in cost or in the amount of trouble you have to go through to get it installed.  On the plus side, even if there is never a nuclear explosion or nuclear incident, it can also protect you from violent weather, and make you and your supplies harder to find by looters, and be a bit easier to defend than the typical house.  A good “bomb shelter” is buried deep, air tight, structurally sound, has an angled entry to prevent radiation (which travels in straight lines) getting in, and a filter system to remove radioactive particles (also any chemical or biological agents) from the air.  A better bomb shelter also has a hidden second way out.  As an example, Atlas Survival Shelters have the time tested corrugated pipe shelters and some other less effective options which might be more practical for some people’s situation.

Let us say you can’t afford a bomb shelter or don’t have the ability to install a true shelter or even a hardened structure or room.  Or worse, you have a perfectly suitable bomb shelter but can’t get to it in time.  Try to put something between you and the blast and heat, preferably something which won’t collapse on you.   Since one of the best (or at least most practical things) to protect you from radiation is three feet of dirt, a nice ditch is good to dive into, or even better would be a buried culvert to keep the local fallout off of you.  If you don’t get disintegrated by the fireball or crushed by the blast or a building collapsing on you, or get a lethal dose of radiation or burned by the radiated heat, what can you to do to extend that short term survival for a useful span of time?  Advance planning will make all the difference in your chances.

Since fireball, blast and heat are fairly obvious, and you are still alive, they are no longer of primary concern (unless there are fires burning nearby or “down wind”).  Radiation and fallout are your primary concerns.  Fallout can “fall” on you, so get under cover ASAP, and remove your clothes and put them into sealed containers which are removed from living areas, then wash yourself thoroughly to get any fallout off your skin and out of your hair.  Do NOT use a conditioner on your hair, as this can bind the radioactive particles to your hair.  Treat the wash water as contaminated.  Once you have removed any fallout, check the radiation levels around you using a personal radiation detector.  One of the better choices is the NukAlert-ER, but it is pricy ($750) and has been listed as only being available for government sales since March of 2017.  If interested, contact them anyway and see if you can get on their list; occasionally they may have an extra one available.  They do have a stripped down keychain version which “chirps” to indicate the level of radiation, but the price is more affordable and it is still available for individual sales.  The company, KI4U.com has some good reference materials, some “old fashioned” analog radiation detection equipment, and can calibrate your radiation equipment.  Alternatively, GQ Electronics has some decent digital detectors for very nice prices.  I’ve tried the GMC-320 Plus and it is adequate and the customer service was excellent.  You can get modern meters from China well under $100, but do you really want to gamble that they will be reliable and accurate enough to help protect your life?

Remember, nuclear explosions produce EMPs, so keep your electronic meter in an EMP shielded container when not in use.  There are non-electronic radiation monitoring options as well, mostly “dosimeters” using badges or cards which show cumulative exposure.  These are not optimal, but they are fairly inexpensive and show the more important “cumulative” exposure.  Plus, they don’t need batteries and will laugh at EMPs.  Even with a good meter, having these for backup and long term monitoring is a good idea.  They don’t “turn off”, so keep them shielded (in a sealed bag in the freezer is best) until you want to start accumulating exposure.

Radiation is mindless, you can’t reason with it or trick it or bribe it.  All you can do is block it or get away from it.

Fallout Protection

Local fallout is a fairly short term problem.  The intensity goes down 90% for each time period 7 times the last one.  That is, after 7 hours, the intensity is down to 1/10 of the original intensity.  After 2 days (49 hours), the intensity will be down to 1/100th, and after 2 weeks (14 days), it will be down to 1/1000th, which would be fairly safe.

It is best to stay inside (or at least under cover) while fallout is a danger, although after 2 days, you can make brief forays if necessary.  You will want covering which will prevent any fallout from getting on your skin and block the effects of alpha and beta particles.  Coveralls might be adequate, but vinyl rain suits might be better since they can be easily washed off and cover the head.  Use duct tape to seal any gaps.  Nothing you can wear will protect you from gamma radiation, so keep your exposure time to the minimum possible and monitor the radiation levels you are being exposed to.

It is bad to get fallout on your skin, but it is really, really bad to get it in you.  A CBRN (Chemical, Biological, RADIOLOGICAL and NUCLEAR) rated gas mask would seem to be just the ticket, but there are problems.  Sure, there are a lot of surplus ones out there at quite reasonable prices.  But they are surplus for a reason.  Either they are obsolete, or defective or just so old that effectiveness is uncertain.  A good, modern mask will cost you well over $100.  Best is a mask with two (or even three) filter ports, so you can screw on a new filter before removing the old one.  Plus it will allow the greatest flexibility for use with a rifle.

But wait, the mask itself is only part of the system.  You need the CBRN filters as well; it is best get a mask which uses the NATO standard, 40mm canisters for the best variety and ease of installation.  These are not terribly expensive compared to the cost of the mask, but they do usually cost $40 and up, and you need several.  Under severe conditions, each will only last a few hours, and even “normally clean” air will use up a filter in twenty four hours.  The canisters often have an expiration date; some people claim they are good as long as they are sealed, others say toss them when expired.  I would get new filters when the old ones expired, and use the unexpired ones first (when it was most important), saving the expired ones for when I ran out of the “good” ones.

On the other hand, I would be tempted to not bother with the gas mask at all.  They are expensive, short lived, uncomfortable, difficult to use correctly (particularly under stress), limit your vision, make it difficult to communicate, prevent you from eating, and most prevent you from drinking (some have drinking tubes, and a few have drinking tubes which work well and don’t allow in contamination).  If you wear glasses, you need to make sure they fit under the mask or get a prescription insert.  The purpose of the gas mask is to keep out radioactive particles, and although nothing will do that as well as the CBRN gas mask, a standard filter mask may serve.  There are 95% masks readily available cheap (N95), but I would spend the extra time and money to get the 99% filtration masks (N99).  There are N100 (99.97% filtration) masks which might be even better, but I have not tried them.  The N ratings, as well as R and P for oil resistant versions, are the American system.  The European system is Px for filters which attach to a mask and FFPx for “one piece” masks.   P2 is rated for 94% filtration and P3 for 99.95% filtration.  As for one piece masks, FFP2 is 94% and FFP3 is 99%.  I get my FFP3 masks, made by 3M, from Israel, and they are comfortable, compact and reasonably priced.  A pair of goggles to keep the particles out of your eyes as well is a good idea.

         

Keep in mind that the particles filtered out are still dangerous, so the used filters should be treated appropriately.

No face mask will work with facial hair other than a mustache without dangerous leaks, so be prepared to get and maintain a close shave.

Breathing in radioactive particles is not the only way to get them into the body to wreck havoc.  If your food or water is contaminated, so are you, so keep anything you plan to eat or drink in sealed containers so no particulates can get in.  And keep it shielded from radiation at least as well as you are yourself.

Treatment of Radiation Poisoning

Too large a dose of radiation and you will be sick, suffer bodily damage or die without medical treatment, which may not be available.  What can you do to reduce the effects of the radiation dose you received?

Potassium Iodide (KI) Tablets

You’ve probably heard of these as a “cure” or “protection” for radiation.  This claim is, to be charitable, inaccurate.  This substance does serve one particular (and important) function after a nuclear explosion.

One of the byproducts of nuclear fission in an explosion are isotopes of iodine.  The thyroid gland gobbles up any iodine it can get, and having radioactive iodine in your thyroid gland is bad news.  The KI tablets, taken before the radioactive iodine can get to you, “fills up” the thyroid gland so little or no radioactive iodine can get in.  That is it.  It does not offer any protection against any other radiation or for any other organ in the body.  And there are risks involved in taking it.  But since any help is better than no help; check with your doctor to make sure your risk in taking KI is relatively low, and have it on hand.  It is available in 65mg and 130mg pills; 130mg is the daily dose for an adult and generally has a score so it can be split into two 65mg doses (for children).  It can also be taken upon notification of a nuclear accident involving fission such as the one at Chernobyl.

Water

Tritium can be “washed” out of your system by drinking lots of water.

Baking Soda

This stuff is dirt cheap, available everywhere, and surprisingly useful for combating radiation.  To start with, it is really good to have it in the water you use to wash fallout from your skin (or your pets), as well as washing clothing and anything else which might have radioactive particles on it.  It is useful internally as well.  The kidneys are particularly susceptible to damage from uranium exposure.  Old military manuals recommended doses of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to alkalinize the urine, chemically resulting in a less toxic uranyl ion and more easily excreted uranium-carbonate complex.

Other Possibilities

There are all kinds of claims about other things to use internally or in soak baths to treat radiation poisoning.  From a medical viewpoint, here are recommended treatments for various radioactive contaminates.  Many foods and other materials show up in individual research with claimed benefits against radiation exposure, and there are even historical indications of successful treatments.  For instance, Japanese patients from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs that daily ate wakame miso soup before the explosions did not suffer the radiation effects that people who did not eat it regularly suffered.

Antibiotics and Medical Supplies

Radiation plays havoc with your immune system.  Having a stock of antibiotics on hand would be useful in combating diseases which attempt to take advantage of your reduced immune system paired with a much less hygienic environment than you are used to.  If you have a good relation with your doctor, you may be able to get prescriptions from him, or there are doctors on the internet that will consult with you and sell you a large supply appropriate for your situation.   If nothing else, many of the good general antibiotics are available from a pet fish store.  Make sure you get the pure antibiotic, not one which includes ingredients to make your fins shinier.  🙂  Most antibiotics will last much longer than their expiration date if properly stored (dark, cool, without air allowed into the container).  Military studies show that most are still useable after eleven years or more; the exception is the “cyclines” (i.e. Doxycycline) class which some sources say can turn toxic.

Of course you want to have a real good first aid kit with over the counter medications, or even an advanced medical kit.

Supplies for Nuclear Explosion Survival

Other than the stuff already discussed, normal survival supplies are in order.  After all, you will need to survive everything else a disaster can bring as well as radiation and other bomb effects.  Remember, you will want to avoid going outside (except possibly briefly) for at least two weeks, so plan for supplies accordingly.

The post Introduction to Nuclear Survival appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

How to Learn Prepper Skills

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editors Note: Another guest post from Valknut79 to The Prepper Journal. A great way to start out the New Year is to do as he suggets and give yourself a challenge in learning a new valuable skill. Also, please remember to vote for the Round 12 winner of the Prepper Writing Contest, voting ends tomorrow! 

There is so much to learn as a prepper. I’ve been doing this for four years in a serious capacity, and I know the bare bones basics of gardening, I can start a fire two different ways, shoot a gun with decent accuracy, and I’ve learned how to store and rotate food and water. I’ve got a few projects in the pipeline, including learning how to interpret Morse code, getting at least one or two more fire-starting methods, and learning how to get a little more accurate with my archery.

Learning how to do all of these things is overwhelming to many. But, as the old adage would say, I’d rather learn how to fish than rely on someone else to find my fish. So with that said, I’ve got a few good ideas on how I’m going to pick up some of these extra skills.

Step One: Make a list of Items to Learn

Your history textbooks are rife with suggestions for ways to improve the present. I read as much as I can about the World War period of American History to learn about what modern wartime and rationing might look like, and learning about prairie homesteader skills will certainly give you a good jumping off point for figuring out what skills are most important in a modern SHTF or survival situation. Build a list of skills you think you might want to learn, and prioritize that list not by what’s easy or fun, but by what you feel is most important.

Spending time early on with a prioritization of step helps you overcome one of the biggest problems that every prepper (and perhaps everyone in the world) has with regards to learning – acquisition disorder. I can’t tell you how many bits, bobs and doodads I’ve picked up over the years saying “I’ll take this home and learn how to do it today” never to have it see the light of day. That’s why I have a number of software programs to teach me new languages, a guitar in my garage that has never been strummed, and more than a few home improvement items that need to be built or installed. Had I prioritized my learning, I would have saved a few dollars for sure.

Step Two: YouTube

You can find so many free videos on YouTube that will teach you how to do almost everything, from archery to fishing to starting fires. Because it’s free, and because most of those submitting the videos have less than professional equipment, some of the videos are not great quality. That said, video quality is not the most important thing when it comes to learning, and for most of the easy, fast skills like fire starting or tying knots, there are plenty of tutorials that will teach you everything you need to know.

Step Three: Classes

As much as I’m not a fan of online learning, there are a good number of reasonably in-depth tutorials on platforms like Udemy (udemy.com), Coursera (Coursera.org), and others that can teach you more difficult material. Currently, you can easily find courses on preparedness, American History, vegetable gardening, food and water storage, shooting, camping, shelter-building and more. Many are free of charge.

In addition to online platforms, which might be better for theoretical rather than practical knowledge, you should explore classes offered by your local library, park district, or community college. Our local park district offers martial arts and archery classes for all ages, while our community college has classes in canning, gardening, soapmaking and candlemaking. At our library, we had a local prepper give a talk about food storage and preserving, and a number of courses that focused on camping skills.

For extreme beginners, your church may offer some group activities that can be beneficial as well. If you’ve never been camping before, it might not be so overwhelming to go with a group from your local church to learn as much as you can.

Step Four: Practice

Once you learn something, it is essential to practice that skill. Practice again and again. I have an ever-growing list of things I’ve learned in the field of preparedness, and I make sure that I head out to the backyard and practice once a year or more. That includes getting the tent out and setting it up qucikly and quietly, starting a fire, taking an afternoon to head to the shooting range and more. Knot-tying, and certain other skills, can be practiced on your sofa during commercial breaks if necessary.

 

Step Five: Expand Your Knowledge

Everyday, I spend about two hours in my car to commute to and from work, as well as time spent driving at work. I get to work an hour before my coworkers when I’m alone in the office. I spend an hour at the gym when I come home, and during all of that time, I’m learning. Listening to podcasts about some of the things I already know about, things I want to learn about, and ways to improve is certainly an easy way to start. If you have an extensive amount of time you can spend listening, then audio books are certainly a way to stay invested in survivalist and outdoorsman topics.

In addition, now is the time to return to step one, and read more books about the subject and start to find related topics. This is a new chance to reprioritize and get excited about ideas for your next learning adventure.

Step Six: Teach Someone Else

The most important and most overlooked step is to teach someone else. This is not solely for the benefit of passing on the knowledge. One famous researcher, Edgar Dale, in his “Cone of Learning” model, said that we remember only 10% of what we read, and 20% of what we hear, but we remember 70-90% of what we teach or demonstrate to others.

The act of teaching helps you to organize your thoughts. It helps you identify where others have a gap in their knowledge, and the act of plugging their gap can help you plug your own. It helps you think more thoroughly, move more slowly through the routine steps, and develop your own understanding.

Not just that, but it’s fun and it helps make someone else just a little more prepared for coming disasters. So what do you want to learn, and what do you think is the best way of making it happen?

 

The post How to Learn Prepper Skills appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

How to Pass the HAM Radio Exam

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editor’s Note: Another guest submission from Zac Martin. The subject of Ham communications has been touched upon in the past, once from Pat Henry –  Should You Get a HAM Radio License or Hide from the Government? back in 2013 and once from R. Ann Parris – Radio Silence, Communications Without Electronics in March of this year. This article should help in your decision on which path to take, or not take.

To be more specific, this article will tell you how to pass the Technician license exam, which is where you’ll want to start if you’re a beginner. I just finished taking my exam and I passed on the first try. I figured this would be a good chance to expand on what it takes to pass the Tech exam and what do you need to know about it to avoid any surprises.

There are three classes of HAM radio licenses available to civilians: Technician, General, and Extra. Technician is going to be where you want to start, with the other licenses being good ideas a little down the road after a little bit more practice.

The Technician license exam will have 35 questions, you can miss 9. Miss any more than that and you’re going to end up having to take the exam again. However, with the right study tips, passing on the first attempt shouldn’t be a problem. I did quite a bit of researching and studying prior to the exam, and here are the tools that I found the most helpful:

1) Hamstudy.org Fashcards– I studied from several different HAM exam prep websites, but I found this one to be the best. Not only do the flash cards on this site cover all 426 questions from the question bank that your test will pull from, but they let you know the reasoning behind each correct answer as well.

As you miss questions in the flash cards, they’ll cycle back through the stack and you’ll find yourself being asked the same question multiple times throughout your studying to help ensure that you know the correct way to answer the questions that you missed.

The website even keeps a visible graph open for you at all times showing you what percentage of questions from each submodule that you’re getting correct. Should you notice that you’re scoring low on a particular submodule then you can specifically request to only be given flashcards from that specific section, allowing you to really hammer down on what it is that you’re missing.

Over time, the website will let you know what your overall grade is. By test day, my overall grade on the website was an 81%. I ended up with an 80% on the actual licensing exam, so I’d say that the website will give you a pretty clear view of where you stand on things.

2) Hamstudy.org Practice Tests – This is the other cool part of hamstudy.org, the practice tests look exactly like the actual test will. They have 35 questions, and they pull questions from all of the different sub modules that the exam will draw from. After you finish the test and submit it, your grade will appear and you will be able to go back and see what you missed, what the correct answer was, and why. I found it to be incredibly helpful, and it really helped me to know what to expect from the exam.

As a result, when the exam was placed in front of me I had absolutely zero test anxiety. I already knew what the thing was going to look like and I felt confident with my having studied over every potential question from the question bank that there was. A good chunk of this confidence came from having taken these practice tests multiple times.

3) Dan Romanchik’s Free Study Guide – Though it is a lot of pages (40+ to be exact), I printed off the entire free exam prep e-book and read it through multiple times prior to taking the exam. This thing is worth its weight in gold. I actually recommend taking this step first. It will help you to ensure that you are prepared for hamstudy.org’s practice questions.

This free e-book will also tell you the formulas that you are going to need to know for the exam. Fortunately, there’s really only two that you need to know from Ohm’s Law E=IR, and P=EI. If you know those two equations, you’ll be good for most of the math problems.

You can find the e-book at this link: https://www.kb6nu.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/2014-no-nonsense-tech-study-guide-v20.pdf

4) Memorize the different bands – I didn’t see these anywhere within the free study guide, but found that if you don’t know them, you’re going to miss quite a few questions on the exam. You just straight up have to memorize these. I just wrote them all down in a little notebook that I’m constantly carrying with me, and would occasionally glance at them while I was at work.

10 meters = 29.600MHz
6 meters = 52.525MHz
2 meters = 146.52MHz
1.25 meters = 223.50MHz
70cm = 446.00MHz
33cm = 906.50MHz
23cm = 1294.50MHz

5) Ask around to see if there are other HAMs in your area – Initially I had been looking all over online to see where the closest testing center would be to me. The closest one I found was several weeks in the future and about a two-hour drive from where I live. Not ideal, I wanted to quickly study the material and move on my merry way, but I planned to make a day trip out of it.

HAM radio came up in conversation while at work though, and by talking with people there I discovered that there was actually a local club in my town that was able to test me and within just a couple of days. That would mean I wouldn’t have to stress for multiple weeks before taking the exam. I was familiar with Parkinson’s Law, stating that work expands to take up the time that we give it, so I knew that if I set a deadline of two weeks that would give me plenty of time to prepare while simultaneously ensuring I don’t wait until the last minute.

Anyways, thanks to that conversation at work I discovered that there were actually several local testing centers that I could have taken the exam at that didn’t show up on the official  American Radio Relay League, ARRL website. When I showed up to take my exam I notified the proctor that they weren’t popping up online, and they mentioned that they had been having trouble with that for quite some time. I suppose that’s a fairly common problem, because from what the proctor told me there were several other testing sites in my area that I could have gone to, and not a single one of those sites was popping up on the ARRL website either.

So, if you know a local HAM ask them where you can test at as it just may save you a good chunk of change in gas money.

So what did I do to Prepare?

I studied for two weeks for maybe 30 minutes every day or so. If engineering, physics, and electronics come easy to you, then you may be able to get by with less time. I’m terrible at and foreign to them, so that’s what it took me.

I spent the first week reading through the free e-book and highlighting what I thought was important. It was pretty content heavy, so just about the whole thing ended up yellow for me. You may say that’s not really productive, but it allowed me time to slowly think over what I had just read, and helped me to sift through a lot of word fluff when I would refer to the page later on.

I spent the second week taking hamstudy.org’s practice tests and flashcards. I started on Day 8. I sat my butt down for a solid 1.5 hours as I went through all 426 flash cards for the test. As mentioned before, the website keeps a tab running for you showing not only what percentage of the questions that you’ve seen, but what your grade is by that point as well. My score was abysmally low at this point. I was most definitely learning, but the knowledge was still marinating in my head and needed a bit more practice.

On days 9-14 I spent about 30 minutes every night going through flash cards and then taking 2 practice tests while my wife watched Hallmark Christmas movies. I was sitting by her on the couch and able to take a quick break if she had any questions, so this really didn’t force me to be present-yet-absent while I studied.

By the time test day came around, I showed up and paid my $15 cash in exact change (they may not have change otherwise) and sat down to a pencil and paper test. I ended up missing 6 and passing my exam about 20 minutes from when I started. Honestly, you could probably finish it even quicker than that if electronics is something that comes easily to you. I’m pretty terrible at that stuff, so if I can pass it, I know you can too.

After you pass the exam, the proctor will give you your licensing ticket. That doesn’t mean that you can go home and get on the radio that night though. You’ll have to wait several days for your name and call sign to finally be listed on the official website. Only then can you begin to broadcast over the radio using your call sign.

Mine hasn’t been posted yet, but I’ve been told it takes about a week or two. If you follow the above steps, I’m fairly confident that you’ll be able to pass this thing on the first try. As I mentioned before, I’m terrible with this type of material. It by no means come easily to me. But I do feel that I am good at studying, and by that, I mean I can sit down and force myself to go over flashcards for a confusing-to-me subject.

If I can do it, you can do it.

Follow the tips, peacefully take the test, and maybe someday we’ll talk over the radio together!

The post How to Pass the HAM Radio Exam appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

How to Pass the HAM Radio Exam

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editor’s Note: Another guest submission from Zac Martin. The subject of Ham communications has been touched upon in the past, once from Pat Henry –  Should You Get a HAM Radio License or Hide from the Government? back in 2013 and once from R. Ann Parris – Radio Silence, Communications Without Electronics in March of this year. This article should help in your decision on which path to take, or not take.

To be more specific, this article will tell you how to pass the Technician license exam, which is where you’ll want to start if you’re a beginner. I just finished taking my exam and I passed on the first try. I figured this would be a good chance to expand on what it takes to pass the Tech exam and what do you need to know about it to avoid any surprises.

There are three classes of HAM radio licenses available to civilians: Technician, General, and Extra. Technician is going to be where you want to start, with the other licenses being good ideas a little down the road after a little bit more practice.

The Technician license exam will have 35 questions, you can miss 9. Miss any more than that and you’re going to end up having to take the exam again. However, with the right study tips, passing on the first attempt shouldn’t be a problem. I did quite a bit of researching and studying prior to the exam, and here are the tools that I found the most helpful:

1) Hamstudy.org Fashcards– I studied from several different HAM exam prep websites, but I found this one to be the best. Not only do the flash cards on this site cover all 426 questions from the question bank that your test will pull from, but they let you know the reasoning behind each correct answer as well.

As you miss questions in the flash cards, they’ll cycle back through the stack and you’ll find yourself being asked the same question multiple times throughout your studying to help ensure that you know the correct way to answer the questions that you missed.

The website even keeps a visible graph open for you at all times showing you what percentage of questions from each submodule that you’re getting correct. Should you notice that you’re scoring low on a particular submodule then you can specifically request to only be given flashcards from that specific section, allowing you to really hammer down on what it is that you’re missing.

Over time, the website will let you know what your overall grade is. By test day, my overall grade on the website was an 81%. I ended up with an 80% on the actual licensing exam, so I’d say that the website will give you a pretty clear view of where you stand on things.

2) Hamstudy.org Practice Tests – This is the other cool part of hamstudy.org, the practice tests look exactly like the actual test will. They have 35 questions, and they pull questions from all of the different sub modules that the exam will draw from. After you finish the test and submit it, your grade will appear and you will be able to go back and see what you missed, what the correct answer was, and why. I found it to be incredibly helpful, and it really helped me to know what to expect from the exam.

As a result, when the exam was placed in front of me I had absolutely zero test anxiety. I already knew what the thing was going to look like and I felt confident with my having studied over every potential question from the question bank that there was. A good chunk of this confidence came from having taken these practice tests multiple times.

3) Dan Romanchik’s Free Study Guide – Though it is a lot of pages (40+ to be exact), I printed off the entire free exam prep e-book and read it through multiple times prior to taking the exam. This thing is worth its weight in gold. I actually recommend taking this step first. It will help you to ensure that you are prepared for hamstudy.org’s practice questions.

This free e-book will also tell you the formulas that you are going to need to know for the exam. Fortunately, there’s really only two that you need to know from Ohm’s Law E=IR, and P=EI. If you know those two equations, you’ll be good for most of the math problems.

You can find the e-book at this link: https://www.kb6nu.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/2014-no-nonsense-tech-study-guide-v20.pdf

4) Memorize the different bands – I didn’t see these anywhere within the free study guide, but found that if you don’t know them, you’re going to miss quite a few questions on the exam. You just straight up have to memorize these. I just wrote them all down in a little notebook that I’m constantly carrying with me, and would occasionally glance at them while I was at work.

10 meters = 29.600MHz
6 meters = 52.525MHz
2 meters = 146.52MHz
1.25 meters = 223.50MHz
70cm = 446.00MHz
33cm = 906.50MHz
23cm = 1294.50MHz

5) Ask around to see if there are other HAMs in your area – Initially I had been looking all over online to see where the closest testing center would be to me. The closest one I found was several weeks in the future and about a two-hour drive from where I live. Not ideal, I wanted to quickly study the material and move on my merry way, but I planned to make a day trip out of it.

HAM radio came up in conversation while at work though, and by talking with people there I discovered that there was actually a local club in my town that was able to test me and within just a couple of days. That would mean I wouldn’t have to stress for multiple weeks before taking the exam. I was familiar with Parkinson’s Law, stating that work expands to take up the time that we give it, so I knew that if I set a deadline of two weeks that would give me plenty of time to prepare while simultaneously ensuring I don’t wait until the last minute.

Anyways, thanks to that conversation at work I discovered that there were actually several local testing centers that I could have taken the exam at that didn’t show up on the official  American Radio Relay League, ARRL website. When I showed up to take my exam I notified the proctor that they weren’t popping up online, and they mentioned that they had been having trouble with that for quite some time. I suppose that’s a fairly common problem, because from what the proctor told me there were several other testing sites in my area that I could have gone to, and not a single one of those sites was popping up on the ARRL website either.

So, if you know a local HAM ask them where you can test at as it just may save you a good chunk of change in gas money.

So what did I do to Prepare?

I studied for two weeks for maybe 30 minutes every day or so. If engineering, physics, and electronics come easy to you, then you may be able to get by with less time. I’m terrible at and foreign to them, so that’s what it took me.

I spent the first week reading through the free e-book and highlighting what I thought was important. It was pretty content heavy, so just about the whole thing ended up yellow for me. You may say that’s not really productive, but it allowed me time to slowly think over what I had just read, and helped me to sift through a lot of word fluff when I would refer to the page later on.

I spent the second week taking hamstudy.org’s practice tests and flashcards. I started on Day 8. I sat my butt down for a solid 1.5 hours as I went through all 426 flash cards for the test. As mentioned before, the website keeps a tab running for you showing not only what percentage of the questions that you’ve seen, but what your grade is by that point as well. My score was abysmally low at this point. I was most definitely learning, but the knowledge was still marinating in my head and needed a bit more practice.

On days 9-14 I spent about 30 minutes every night going through flash cards and then taking 2 practice tests while my wife watched Hallmark Christmas movies. I was sitting by her on the couch and able to take a quick break if she had any questions, so this really didn’t force me to be present-yet-absent while I studied.

By the time test day came around, I showed up and paid my $15 cash in exact change (they may not have change otherwise) and sat down to a pencil and paper test. I ended up missing 6 and passing my exam about 20 minutes from when I started. Honestly, you could probably finish it even quicker than that if electronics is something that comes easily to you. I’m pretty terrible at that stuff, so if I can pass it, I know you can too.

After you pass the exam, the proctor will give you your licensing ticket. That doesn’t mean that you can go home and get on the radio that night though. You’ll have to wait several days for your name and call sign to finally be listed on the official website. Only then can you begin to broadcast over the radio using your call sign.

Mine hasn’t been posted yet, but I’ve been told it takes about a week or two. If you follow the above steps, I’m fairly confident that you’ll be able to pass this thing on the first try. As I mentioned before, I’m terrible with this type of material. It by no means come easily to me. But I do feel that I am good at studying, and by that, I mean I can sit down and force myself to go over flashcards for a confusing-to-me subject.

If I can do it, you can do it.

Follow the tips, peacefully take the test, and maybe someday we’ll talk over the radio together!

The post How to Pass the HAM Radio Exam appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

How to Store Fuel

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editor’s Note: Another guest submission from Zac Martin. This is a subject that hasn’t been written about in awhile. I did add links to the previous The Prepper Journal posts on the subject at the end for your research. Be safe out there and note my closing message!

A friend of mine just evacuated his mother-in-law from Florida prior to Hurricane Irma’s arrival. I’d heard multiple reports on the news of severe gas shortages all throughout the state and so I asked him if he had had any trouble with filling up his tank.

His response? He had had to drive to three separate gas stations before he finally found one that hadn’t been run dry. What would he have done had they not had enough gas in their car to search all over town for gas stations that weren’t empty yet? He potentially could have been stranded in an area that was being evacuated, or worse.

We’ve had an active hurricane season this year, and there are further reports that we are going to continue to experience a gas shortage this season’s until hurricanes finish pummeling our coastlines.

So how do you avoid gas shortages when crap happens? When the pump runs dry what do you do? Your car will no longer get you anywhere, and if there’s a power shortage in your area (which there is a high probability of if people are evacuating), then eventually your gasoline-powered generator won’t work either.

No generator = no refrigerator, and this can have big repercussions if you have stored medication that needs to be kept cold or a decent amount of food that will otherwise go to waste. Just look at the current state of Puerto Rico. They’ve got absolutely no power and nobody has any idea of when it will be back on. How do you keep your father-in-law’s insulin refrigerated when you have no gasoline?

As you can see, the wisest course of action would be to have at least some fuel stored prior, but there are a lot of questions this raises.

  • How long does gasoline last? Doesn’t diesel degrade? Where should I store it?

We’re going to aim to answer these questions and more throughout this article.

Fuel Storage Basics

The general rule of thumb when it comes to storing fuel is that the more refined the fuel is, the shorter the shelf life is going to be. This means that kerosene, being the least refined, is going to last a much longer time than gasoline does. On average:

  • Kerosene will store 15+ years
  • Diesel will store somewhere around 8-10 years
  • And gasoline will store approximately 2 years

Storing fuel any longer than this can result in engine troubles if you decide to use it. With time, decomposition occurs which can result in gums and peroxides accumulating within the fuel. These can then clog fuel filters, lines and pumps and make it so your engine won’t run altogether.

Gasoline has further problems with becoming useless over time because the butane that’s added to it to help your engine start will evaporate.

So what can we do to protect our fuel?

  1. Protect your fuel from the elements

The first and most important thing that you can do to protect your stored fuel is to make sure that you actually have it stored in a secure container. Fuel needs to be kept away from moisture as this will accumulate within the fuel causing problems when you do finally use it. The best place to store fuel would probably be in a sealed underground container, but those are expensive and a lot harder to come by.

Good ol’ fashioned fuel cans are going to be the most common form of storage for the average American. Do what you can to store these canisters in an area that is not exposed to extremes of temperature or moisture. By doing this you will help to preserve the integrity of your fuel long term.

  1. Use a fuel stabilizer for gasoline

Fuel stabilizers work by preventing the decomposition of the different compounds within fuel, with the most common fuel stabilizer you’ll find being Sta-Bil.

Sta-Bil is a wonderful fuel stabilizer that will actually increase the longevity of your fuel, particularly gasoline. You can find it at essentially any home-improvement-y store out there and I’ve found it at Tractor Supply, Lowe’s, and Home Depot just to name a few.

  1. Buy Gasoline for Storage During the Winter

Gasoline has butane added to it. Butane evaporates over time. This makes starting your car/generator/whatever even more difficult during colder months. Gasoline companies know that butane evaporates, and they also know that if your car doesn’t start during the cold you may assume that the last gas station you went to sold you junk gas.

  

So, they add extra butane to gasoline during the winter time (the infamous “winter blend” always talked about when refineries slow production to switch) to help with cold-weather engine starting. Buying and storing winter-produced gasoline will mean that your gasoline will have extra butane added to it meaning that it will last longer than summer-time gasoline.

  1. Use an Antibacterial for Long-term Diesel Storage

It’s fairly common to have at least some water find its way into your fuel, whether that be from condensation or a faulty gasket. With diesel, that water will have a higher density and sink to the bottom of the fuel tank. However, right where the water line meets the diesel line bacteria and fungi have the potential to grow and cause problems if given enough time and the right conditions.

These bacteria and fungi can give off acidic byproducts which in turn can result in sediment (affectionately referred to as ‘diesel sludge’) depositing at the bottom of the tank, plugged fuel filters, tank corrosion, and crappy fuel. Using a biocide such as Bellicide with long term diesel storage can help to eliminate this problem before it ever becomes an issue.  Sta-Bil also has similar diesel storage products however, and I’m personally more familiar with them.

Wrapping it Up

Nobody wants to be stranded in a potentially dangerous area without access to quality gasoline. Therefore, storing a reasonable amount and taking care of it is a very wise precaution. By following the above tips, you’ll be much better prepared to get your family and yourself out of dodge when the going gets tough.

Sources (article)

  1. Rawles, James Wesley. Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse. P59-60.
  2. Bell Performance. “Label says ‘fights algae’ but do you need a diesel fuel algaecide. https://www.bellperformance.com/blog/bid/111973/Label-Says-Fights-algae-But-Do-You-Need-a-Diesel-Fuel-Algaecide Published December 31, 2012.

Former Subject-matter related Posts on The Prepper Journal:

Editors Note: While we are big fans of Jerry Cans, and think they are the best for storing fuels at home, they are NOT suitable for storing potable water! They have an internal coating that is non-reactive with fuels that protects the can from corrosion and the fuel from reacting with the metal. However this coating will dissolve into water stored in the cans and it is very bad for you. From their official site under FAQ:

“CAN YOU USE THESE CANS FOR STORING WATER OR POTABLE WATER?
This can is not to be used with water. Water will mix with the liner and fuel will not. Wavian cans should never be filled with water. But you can use these plastic BPA Free jerry cans.”
Be careful because a lot of “survival” boards will have posts from someone claiming they raised their child from birth with water stored in a Jerry Can and the kid is now 12 and fine. They leave out that he has three eyes, no nose and a third arm! 😉 Kidding aside, the Jerry Can is NOT for water.

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Prepping Priorities – What Should You Be Prepping For?

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Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter the Prepper Writing Contest today.


Practical Preparedness – Planning by Prevalence

When we jump on preparedness sites, sometimes we’re immediately struck by the enormous loads of things to buy, do, and learn. We immediately start hearing about WROL, battle rifles, ammo counts in the thousands, pressure canners, INCH/BOB bags and locations, pace count, and primitive skills. World- and nation-altering events such as nuclear war, internet-ending viruses, Nibiru, Agenda 21 and NWO, and the like pop up. They all have their places, but sometimes things get missed and it can make for a very overwhelming introduction. It can make it hard to prioritize where to spend our time and financial budgets even for those with experience and years of exposure to the prepared mindset.

To make it a little easier to prioritize, we can work in stages. We can look at what is most likely to occur in the near future and our lifetimes, and use that information to help us decide where to focus our time, efforts and resources.

Zone-Ring Systems

In permaculture, planning is based on zones. The basic premise is that you start at 0 or 1 with the self or home, and move outward through 2-4 and eventually into Zone 5. The inner rings have the most immediate contact with the resident, while the outer rings are visited less frequently. Other systems also use similar ring concepts of involvement, frequency and impact.

The same can be applied to preparedness, just like we modified a Health Wheel to fit our particular interests and needs. In this case, instead of looking at the frequency with which we’ll make contact with an area, we’ll be looking at the frequency with which things occur and impact our worlds.

Like permaculture, I’ve gone with five general categories. In this case, they are: Daily, Seasonal/Annual, 5-10 Year, Generational, & Lifetime/Eventually/Maybe. There are some examples for the average Western World resident. Later in the article there’s a few tips for planning for and around those most and least-prevalent scenarios.

Zone 1/First Ring – Daily Occurrences

A layoff can be just as devastating as a zombie invasion if you aren’t prepared.

Daily emergencies are those that strike somebody somewhere every single day in our English-reading modern life. While some affect larger groups, these tend to be personal or family related items. They’re the kinds of things the neighbors might not even notice. Some examples are:

  • Layoff, cut hours, cut wages
  • Major bills (roof, medical, HVAC, veterinary)
  • House fire
  • Major injury/developing disability
  • Theft, burglary, mugging
  • Vehicular accident & malfunction (temporarily removing transportation)
  • Temporary power outages (hours to 1-3 days)
  • Personal physical altercation (mugging, home invasion, the drunk at a bar, date rape)
  • Missing person(s), family death

When considering the financial aspects of preparedness, also consider the things that might not affect jobs, but do affect our income and-or our ability to offset daily costs. For instance, an injury that prevents gardening and picking up overtime or a second job as a stocker, pipe-fitter, or forklift driver, or a developing disability that renders an arm/hand weak or unusable and prevents needlepoint, canine grooming, or weaving.

Zone 2/Second Ring – Seasonal/Annual Occurrences

These are the things we can consult our Almanacs and insurance companies to consider. They regularly tend to affect a larger number of people. It might be a block or a street in some cases, parts of a town or county, or might impact a whole state if not a region. They’d be things like…

River ice jam flooding

 

Let’s hope that last stays firmly in the “annual” category or shifts back to the third prevalence ring for most of us. Let’s also acknowledge that in some places and nations, it’s already more common to be caught in crossfire of some sort than it is to live peaceful lives, and for some of them, it’s as or almost as common as paying monthly bills or going out to eat.

Zone 3/Third Ring – 5-10 Year Occurrences

These are the things that happen regularly, but infrequently. Some occur on cycles. Some, as with the natural disasters above, are a nearly predictable cycle. Some aren’t really predictable, per se, but as with tornadoes in one of the nations’ tornado alley or hurricane-prone areas, you learn to expect them. We can expect them to affect a larger area or more people in many cases.

  • Natural Disasters from above
  • Mudslides
  • Major industrial or business closures/layoffs
  • Drought (personal & widespread impacts)
  • Widespread livestock illnesses (such as the avian diseases that pop up regularly)
  • Temporary outages (3-14 days)
  • Changing life phases (child-birth & toddlers, school-age kids, driving-age youths, empty nests, retirements)
  • Fuel cost cycles

Zone 4/Fourth Ring – Generational Occurrences

The span covered by the term “generation” tends to change if you use the strictest definitions. Most account for a generation to cover about 20-30 years. Some examples of things that very much tend to be generational include:

  • Major wars (mental & physical disabilities, income effects good & bad)
  • Recessions, depressions
  • Fuel cost cycles (more extreme)
  • Serious multi-year “weird” weather (droughts, floods, late or early springs)
  • 25- & 50-year flood levels
  • Some diseases

Zone 5/Fifth Ring – Lifetime/Eventual/Possible Occurrences

A lot of these are going to affect not just a region, not just one nation, but many. In some nations and regions, they may fall under the fourth ring of prevalence instead of the fifth. Some of these are also the big-fear “gotcha’s” or clickbait types that seem to draw folks in. Some are truly believed in, and I try not to judge people on what they believe. Poles have shifted in the past, Yellowstone has erupted, we’ve had serious solar effects on power, and asteroids have struck our earth. Will they happen again in our lifetime or eventually? Some almost certainly. Some are a firm “maybe”. Some are … possible.

  • Great Depression
  • Devastating Midwest seismic activity
  • National or global pandemics in the Western world
  • Major Ring of Fire activity
  • Significant volcanic eruptions (the atmosphere-blocking ash type)
  • Major global climate change (for the hotter or colder)
  • EMP, devastating solar activity
  • Nation-crippling electronic-based virus(es)

Alternative Scale Systems

Like permacuture’s zoning, the business world can also give us some scale systems to apply. High-probability, high-reward, urgent-response items are given priority, while lower-chance and less-likely risks are tended to later. We can create the same for our preparedness.

Another way to look at the five rings would be to apply a timespan for event duration. Perhaps 3-7 days, then 3-6 weeks, 3 months, 6-12 months, and 18-months+.

Like using prevalence, using time spans creates a measurable scale that works off a “most likely” basis. Most of us, at some point inside 1-5 years, will have some sort of financial upheaval or power outage that makes the supplies in the first few rings useful.

Ensuring we have everything we need to cook, clean, stay warm (or cool), and pay bills for those periods will keep us more balanced in our preparedness, and make us better prepared for the things that are MOST likely to occur in our near future and our lifetimes.

Applying Prevalence Rings

It’s inarguable that if you’re ready for the New World Order to freeze the planet and then send out FLIR drones to drop nuclear bombs in the midst of a planned or unplanned foreign-nation bank account hack while satellites are inaccessible due to solar storms’ interference, you’re pretty much good.

That’s not a particularly practical place to start and it might not be the best plan for resource allocation unless everything else really is covered.

There are a world’s worth of things that occur on a small-scale, inside homes and towns, that happen a lot more frequently than the dinosaurs and mega-mammals die out.

I see an awful lot of people hyped on one thing that can go wrong and might one day go wrong, but they exclude all kinds of things that do actually happen.

They forget that we sometimes have disasters that mean daily life is taking place all around us, or in the rest of the county, state, nation and world. They neglect fire extinguishers and smoke detectors for the sexy-cool aspects of preparedness like the rifles and Rambo knives.

Fact is, most of us will experience something from the first tier or two in our lives at least once, and for some of us, they’re regular parts of life.

In many cases of upheaval and crisis, we’re still going to want electricity, most likely.

We will still have a job or need to find a new one, will still be expected to present ourselves showered and with money to receive services, will still have doctor’s appointments, hunting and squatting in county-state-national parks will still be frowned on, and combat gear in the streets will still be the exception rather than the rule.

In some cases, the duration of our life-altering events might only be a few hours or days. However, in many parts of the world, those hours or days can be seriously inconvenient if not downright deadly. The ability to keep a CPAP machine running, repair a down or wrecked vehicle, and continue on with life after a squirrel invasion or a tree comes down is just as important as defending the home from looters and making beeswax candles.

Being able to repel the zombie horde does me little good if my vehicle is in poor repair on a daily basis and leaves me stranded on my way to work. 5K-10K rounds of ammo times my 7 platforms sounds nice, unless I don’t keep oil, coolant, jumper cables and fix-a-flat or a mini air compressor in my vehicle so I can limp my way home to them safely – on a daily basis.

Prioritizing instead of jumping willy-nilly – and tracking instead of continuing to add to whatever my favorite prep stash is – can help prevent daily disasters from truly causing upheaval.

Overlap Between Rings

The nice thing about seriously assessing what is likely to go wrong based on prevalence in the past is that we can sometimes make just little twitches.

We don’t have to be ready for all-out neighborhood wars over food, grazing rights, and tickets to the Earth Arks to create that overlap.

A bug-out bag serves as a shelter-in-place kit as well as a “standard” wildfire or hurricane evac kit. Having a month or two of food (or far more) means we can also weather a big bill because we can skip buying groceries.

Image: How’s your insurance coverage?

Preparing by Prevalence

Resources like the Ready.gov site and our insurance carriers can help us determine what goes wrong in our area. We might be well served making maps using the information they give us about regular, fifty-year and hundred-year floods, wind storms, and snow/hurricane routes to apply to our walk-out and drive-out plans.

We can also use their information – like, what is the number-one thing that causes job-loss or vehicle and home damage in our area – to make sure we’re buffered against it.

Pat’s preparedness arc and the article about a balanced wheel (especially the comments) may help even longtime preppers better assess where they stand, and focus or refocus on any gaps between normal daily life and the return of the Ice Age, Dust Bowl, total economic collapse, and other extreme events. They – and the standard FEMA/Red Cross recommendations for 3-7-10-14 days of supplies – can be excellent starting places for beginners.

The post Prepping Priorities – What Should You Be Prepping For? appeared first on The Prepper Journal.

Prepping 101 In the beginning… or

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Prepping 101 In the beginning… or… How I scared the crap out of myself. Richard McGrath ” Finding Freedom” Audio in player below! Where to start and what to do when you come to realize that we really are not as secure and comfortable as we like to think we are.Once the shade is lifted … Continue reading Prepping 101 In the beginning… or

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Residential Security Checklist

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Written by Orlando Wilson on The Prepper Journal.

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Editor’s Note: This article was generously contributed by Orlando Wilson. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter the Prepper Writing Contest today!


Residential security (RS) is something that is usually taken very lightly, most believe putting in an alarm system and maybe a camera or two is all that’s required.  It is common knowledge that one of the favored places for criminals and terrorists to target a victim is when they are in, entering or leaving their residence; Residential security must be taken very seriously. In times of civil unrest looters will be looking to target any location that has valuables, weapons or assets that they can use and that has minimal security, this means most residential properties.

If your threat is from criminals or terrorists and you’re going to hire security personnel for your residence or office make sure they are in some way trustworthy, just because someone has a security or private investigators license it does not mean they are competent or not working with the criminals. What a lot of people forget when hiring security personnel is that you get what you pay for. I am approached all the time by people who require security personnel, many of whom are having problems with their current security contractor, but they do not want to pay a professional rate. Sure, you can always get a cheaper option but don’t expect the budget security guard to be too concerned about your assets or well-being.

The basic procedures I have listed here can be applied on all residences or offices. What will differ is the type and size of the residence, the manpower and budget available. When taking over or moving into a residence, a threat assessment must be compiled and all vulnerable spots identified. A set of orders needs to compile and procedures drawn up for every eventuality. Before you occupy a residence, the residence and its grounds need to be searched for IEDs, electronic surveillance devices and contraband such as illegal drugs or weapons that could have been left there by the previous occupants.

Video Security System Four 800+TVL Weatherproof Cameras, 65ft Night Vision, 984ft Transmit Range, 500GB HDD

Video Security System Four 800+TVL Weatherproof Cameras, 65ft Night Vision, 984ft Transmit Range, 500GB HDD

If the budget allows, electronic security devices should be employed. There is a vast array of security devices available on the commercial market, ranging from CCTV to laser sensors. Always choose the best that you can afford and buy it from a reputable dealer; it is best to also get a service agreement and have all equipment regularly serviced by trusted people. Even if your residence is in an apartment block, CCTV should be considered for the corridors and public parts of the building. Covert and portable CCTV systems are available at affordable prices and have a variety of uses. These days there are also affordable CCTV system that you can monitor over the internet. I had one client who told me while he was working in East Africa he watched Hurricane Katrina destroy his house in Louisiana over the internet. Remember if you use internet camera’s they can be hacked into, if someone gets access to your computers, passwords or on a more professional level access to your server they can also see what you’re up to.

Many people have alarms systems and panic buttons in their residences and it amuses me that a lot of people believe that installing an alarm is all they require to protect their families. We have all seen the adverts on TV where a woman is home alone, the alarm goes off, the bad guy runs away and the alarm company phones here to make sure she is OK; if only the world was that perfect. What if the bad guys aren’t worried and expect an alarm to go off because know they have at least 15 minutes before the police will respond. If you have an alarm system you need to know what the response time will be for those responding, be it an armed response company or the local police. In some places the response can take hours, even in the U.S. if the responding police believe there is a serious incident taking place with shots fire they will usually back off, call for support, cordon the area and assemble a SWAT team to respond if you’re lucky this may take an hour or two!

Another criminal tactic to counter alarm system on a residence is to keep setting them off until the target turns the system off. Think about it, if over a period of two weeks the alarm on your back door keeps going off between 1am to 4am what would you do? Initially for the first few alarm activations the police will respond, in a lot of places after 3 false alarm activations the police will no longer respond, if you have an armed response company they will be charging you for every alarm they respond to. So, I am sure you will call out the alarm company to fix the alarm but they will find nothing wrong with it. Would you keep putting up with the cost and aggravation of the apparently false alarm activations or just turn the alarm off? Take nothing at face value, if you have an alarm that starts going off for no apparent reason, look deeper!

CCTV should be considered for the corridors and public parts of the building. Covert and portable CCTV systems are available at affordable prices and have a variety of uses.

Security for a residence needs to be planned in depth with multiple rings of defense, how many you have will depend on the type and size of the residence. When planning the security for a residence you need to think like the criminals. In 1994 I was working in South Africa and was tasked to provide security for numerous residences that had active threats on them. My working day usually started in the early evening and went through to after first light the next morning. When I arrived at a residence the first thing I would do would be to assess the area around the residence for likely criminal surveillance points and approach routes. I would then assess the fence or wall around the garden for the most likely point the criminals would use as an entry point. I would then take up a position in the garden where I could see the likely criminal entry point or points and as much of the residence as possible, then I waited.

So, the first cordon of security you should consider is the general area around the residence. You need to identify any potential surveillance positions, choke points and possible ambush locations. Consider using CCTV to cover the streets and exterior of the walls of your grounds. All routes leading up to the residence need to be regularly searched for IEDs, surveillance and signs of an ambush which may be in the process of being set up, to do this the routes and exterior would need to walked by trusted and alert personnel.

If your residence is in an apartment block, the next level of security could take the form of covert CCTV in public areas or placing the building under general protective surveillance. In a large house, this cordon will be the walls or hedges that surround the grounds; these can be monitored by CCTV, with sensors or where legal topped with razor or electric wire.

In a large residence the next cordon would be the grounds or garden. This area could be covered by CCTV and be patrolled regularly by security personnel, day and night and in all weather. All external buildings such as garages and tool sheds need to be properly secured. A lot of people ask me about using guard dogs, something which I tend to dissuade people from doing. Dogs can be weapons and must be keep under control, in South Africa I had two German Sheppard’s attack me; they did not die because the client was screaming at me not hurt them. The dogs had been let out of their cage, as they usually were in the evening, by a staff member who did not know I was working there. OK, it was only me, so no problems but what if it was a child or woman and dog’s owner was not there to take control of them?

If you use dogs they must be properly trained, if I was in a high risk area would I consider having trained dogs in my garden, sure but they would need to be properly trained. Dogs can be targeted as same as security personnel, if they are not trained properly they are easy to poison. Guard dogs that bark a lot are easy to counter, same as an alarm system, we have used this in numerous times in parts of Latin America where every house seems to have a pack of dogs, you just need to get the dogs barking and keep them barking, the owner will soon get fed up with it or the dogs will get tired.

The next cordon would be the residence itself, all doors, windows and skylights need to be secured and controlled and if possible, alarmed. Consider defensive gardening to deter criminals gaining access to windows; below the window plant thorny bushes that would make it difficult and noisy for the criminals to get through. Ideally, all rooms should be fitted with motion detectors and in high risk areas locked when not in use.

Burglar_InHouse

Now you need to consider what you are going to do if criminals try to make entry to your residence; you need to make plans and preparations for this. On my courses I usually ask people what they would have done if someone tried to break in to their house the previous night, a lot of people say they don’t know or just then start to think about it. You need to put together sensible procedures, and then if you have an issue you will know what to do and not panic.

There are two general considerations when planning your procedures; are going to stay in the residence or evacuate, what you do will depend on your situation. A secure room needs to be designated within the residence to be used as a safe room for you and your family in the event of an attack where immediate evacuation is not practical.

The room should be lockable from the inside and have several good communications links with the outside world; there should be a list of emergency numbers in the room, so help can be summoned in the event of an emergency. What equipment is in the room will depend on your situation and the length of time you will need to possible stay in to room, this where you need to know the approximate response times of those coming to help you. The main thing a safe room needs is an escape route, if I was a criminal and wanted to target someone who I knew took their security serious I would not enter their residence. In reality if someone knows how to defend a building SWAT and room clearing tactics won’t work, you’re going to have big problems. The easiest way to clear a building is to cordon it and set it on fire, then hit the inhabitants as they exit, if they don’t exit then criminals have saved some bullets. Always have an escape route!

A set of procedures will need to be drawn up for dealing with visitors to the residence; this is the downfall of most residential security programs. A good example of this resulted in the kidnapping in Haiti of a family member of a business associate of mine. This person has a large residence and employed an armed guard to man his front gate. One evening the guard opened the gate to talk with someone who was asking after one of the staff members, as soon as he stepped outside the gate he had a gun to his put to his head by a criminal who was waiting next to the gate. The criminal with their crew gained access to the residence, as the doors were left open, robbed the place and kidnapped four people.

Burglar

Why should the criminals try to break into a residence when in a lot of cases they can get the occupants to easily open the doors and come to them? As you read this now what would you do if someone crashed into your car; go outside and see what had happened, now you can be kidnapped and the bad guys have access to your house. A lot of houses have their electric mains outside, same in places where generators are use, so if the criminals cut the power what will most people do; go out and investigate. Sever the connecting to most people satellite TV and what will they do, go outside and check the dish. See the pattern, so do the criminals!

Residential Security Checklist

Here is list of things you want to consider when planning the security for your residence. Not everything will apply to you but take what does and use it, a lot of the considerations here can be applied to most houses or apartments.

  • Always plan security in depth, you want as many cordons of defense as possible.
  • Have several means of communications; land-lines and cellular, check them regularly.
  • Have planned escape routes.
  • If the residence overlooked what sniper or surveillance positions are there?
  • Check to see if the residence under surveillance.
  • Has the residence been searched for IEDs, electronic surveillance devices or contraband?
  • Is the residence ever left unoccupied, if yes it needs to be searched before re-occupation?
  • Does the residence have a fence or wall around it and can it realistically keep out intruders?
  • Are there gates to the residence, can they stop an intruder or a car, are the gates locked at all times and what are the procedures for greeting visitors.
  • Is there anything to help criminals climb over the garden walls or gates, such as trees or poles around the exterior of the property?
  • If the residence is in an apartment block, are there fire escapes or scaffolding that could give the criminals a way in?
  • Where along the routes in and out of the residence could an ambush be concealed?
  • Consider putting the residence under protective surveillance.
  • Always use counter-surveillance drills before entering and upon exiting the residence.
  • Regularly photograph or video the areas surrounding the residence and always watch for suspicious vehicles and people.
  • What security lights are there, do they work, when are the lights turned on and where is their control switch? If the control switch is outside, move it inside.
  • Lights should shine away for the residence not on to it.
  • Consider attaching lights triggered by movement detectors outside of doors and venerable areas.
  • Any defects to floodlighting or other security lights should be fixed ASAP.
  • If you are in an apartment block, is the reception manned 24hrs a day and If yes, are the people manning it competent? Consider a penetration test.
  • Do your doors have peepholes- peepholes are best positioned at the side of the door or in the wall so, you cannot be shot through the door. If using a peephole always distinguish any lights behind you.
  • Consider using a video phone to greet visitors and cameras to cover the doors and surrounding areas.
  • Consider an armored layer on the inside of main doors.
  • If you have a residential security team (RST) do they know their orders?
  • Are the RST from a quality trustworthy company and have they been vetted and well trained?
  • Do an assessment on your security personnel and evaluate how much you can really trust them; will they fight, flee or just rollover if there is a problem.
  • Make sure the RST patrols the grounds at all times in all weathers; bad weather is the best time for raids as guards are usually seeking shelter and un-alert.
  • If you are using guard dogs, make sure that they are well trained and preferably under the control of their handler.
  • Are all doors to the residence solid and are the door frames solid, most times a door frame will break before the lock on the door.
  • Are the locks on the doors of a good quality and have you changed them since taking over the residence?
  • If a key is lost or an employee fired who has access to keys change your locks.
  • Consider using deadbolts at the top and bottom of a door and wedges in conjunction with the normal locks.
  • Can the locks be unlocked from the outside, if a window is broken or can the door hinges be unscrewed?
  • Do you have control of all the keys to the residence and have a list of everyone with keys?
  • Have all unused entrances and exits secured.
  • All windows need to be secured on all floors of the building. It is a fact that in 90% of burglaries, access is gained through windows. Check that windows are properly shut, secured and if possible alarmed.
  • Consider putting thorny bushes under windows and around the perimeter of your garden to deter intruders. Thorny bushes can be put on the inside of perimeter walls also to tangle up and alert you to anyone jumping over.
  • Use laminated glass and heavy curtains where there is a threat from IEDs as they will help prevent flying glass. Wood blinds also work for extra privacy and protection.
  • Beware of casting shadows against windows which can be seen from the outside.
  • Consider putting a gravel walkway around the outside of your house so you can hear anyone approaching or stalking around.
  • All skylights and roof doors need to be secured and preferably alarmed. Roofs need to be secured and monitored.
  • Is the attic of the residence adjoined to another roof or attic from which someone could gain access?
  • What alarms are in the residence, are they working and when were they last tested?
  • All doors and windows on outbuildings need to be secured, regularly checked and, if possible, alarmed.
  • Are the roofs of the outbuildings secured; an IED or assailant on the roof of a garage stands a better chance of not being spotted than one in a driveway.
  • Do all padlocks have spare keys and who has them?
  • Are the padlocks of good quality and difficult to pick or shim?
  • Are all weapons in the residence legal and are they secured when not in use?
  • Do you and the RST know their rules of engagement and the laws for use of force?
  • No vehicle should be given access to the grounds of the residence without a member of the security team at least physically checking the interior of the passenger compartment. You never know- your personal driver flashing his light and laying on his horn at the gate might have a gun in the back of this head or a bomb in the trunk of his car.
  • What firefighting equipment is there in the residence and is it in a serviceable condition?
  • Are there any fire alarms and do they work? Fire is the largest cause of loss and damage to private and commercial properties. Fire prevention is, therefore, one of the highest residential security concerns.
  • Flooding is a major threat to property and equipment, common causes include taps that have been left running, leaks in plumbing systems or faulty air conditioning systems, heavy rain or snowfall.
  • Are all valuables kept secure and do you have pictures of all valuable artwork, jewelry etc.?
  • Are all valuables insured and have you recorded the serial numbers of all TVs, computer and stereo equipment?
  • Do you, your family and staff have security, emergency procedures and does everyone know them?
  • Do you, your family and staff know how to report any suspicious activity in the area?
  • Do you, your family and staff know how to the raise the alarm, in the case of an emergency?
  • Make arrangements for power cuts, keep spare batteries and bulbs for torches, several means of communications and check them regularly.
  • If you have a backup generator ensure it is serviceable and you have plenty of fuel in a secure location.
  • Keep all sensitive and security documentation secure and confidential.
  • Keep computers and hard drives secure and password protected.
  • Have your staff and employees been profiled and had background checks?
  • Do not discuss sensitive or security related subjects in front of staff, consider giving them disinformation on such things as travel and business plans.
  • Don’t let any of the security personnel get over familiar with any of the other staff.
  • Consider monitoring all phone calls from and to the residence.
  • All contractors must have appointments and must be searched before entering and leaving the residence. Searched when entering to check for contraband, IEDs or electronic surveillance devices and when leaving to make sure they are not stealing anything.
  • Contractors should be accompanied at all times.
  • If suspicious of visitors, turn them away or keep them outside and preferably illuminated, until their credentials are verified. Also consider that they could be testing your security or a distraction while others try to access your residence.
  • Never illuminate yourself in a doorway or a window, darkness is your friend.
  • All deliveries should go through the RST and be checked for anything suspicious, have a secure area to isolate any suspicious packages.
  • Use a mailbox or virtual office address rather than your residential address.
  • Be suspicious of unexpected power outages, faulty alarms etc.
  • Always have escape routes and don’t let security procedures obstruct them.
  • Know the location and safest routes to safe houses, emergency rendezvous points, hospitals, etc.
  • Think like a criminal and plan for every eventuality.

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Part 2 Intro to Prepping 101

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Part 2 Intro to Prepping 101 Forrest and Kyle “The Prepping Academy” A step-by-step process to becoming a prepared prepper. Forrest and Kyle continue with their “Intro To Prepping 101” series. This week they will cover days 60 to 120 in a new preppers journey. Please listen to last week’s podcastfor class one, the first … Continue reading Part 2 Intro to Prepping 101

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A Prepper Must-Have: Hands-Free Light

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Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

When it comes to a portable light, it’s hard to beat something that leaves your hands free and moves around with your eyes. Their cost, usefulness, and weight make them an absolute must-have for preppers.

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Intro to Prepping – 101

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Intro to Prepping – 101 A step-by-step process to becoming a prepared prepper. Forrest Garvin “”The PreppingAcademy” On this episode Forrest and Kyle begin their “Intro To Prepping 101” series. We’ll also hear more on why they became Preppers and reasons you should too! Whether you’ve been a prepper since the Cuban Missile Crisis, or just … Continue reading Intro to Prepping – 101

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Save on Prepping Supplies: Tax-Free and On-Sale

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Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

Sometimes though, even when it’s not a preparedness-related sale, there are things we can stock up on that applies directly to preparing for the worst. Today we talk about how you can save on prepping supplies.

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Emergency Preparedness: The Quintessential Must-Haves to Survive Disaster

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Catastrophe can strike at any moment. Are you prepared? Are your kids? You need to evaluate your current survival plan and update your emergency preparedness kit. You don’t want to be caught without some of these must have items to survive disaster.

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The Preparedness Wheel: At-A-Glance Balance Check for Readiness

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Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

It’s not about the mental and emotional health. It’s about the balance. When wheels are balanced, we roll much more smoothly through life’s up and downs and this exercise will show if the rest of our preparedness needs and goals are in balance.

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5 Security Measures That Will Keep You Alive During Doomsday

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

You want to make sure that you are secure enough to live to see tomorrow. Let’s take a look at five security measures that you can implement to help you stay alive during doomsday.

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10 Prepping Tips Everyone Should Know

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

If and when a crisis occurs, the last thing you want is to be unprepared. But prepping isn’t always easy. With that said, I want to show you 10 awesome prepping tips that actually work.

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Back to Basics: Are You Prepared to Defend Your Family?

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Written by Pat Henry on The Prepper Journal.

In the continuation of my Back to Basics series that has stretched out a little longer than anticipated, I want to address another of the most common subjects preppers ask about when they are just getting started prepping and that is around defending yourself or others. What are the things we as preppers should consider […]

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Fire Craft: The Best of the Best of the Modern Age

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Written by Mike Turner on The Prepper Journal.

Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Mike Turner. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today. Forward This article will look at a range of modern tools for […]

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Safe Drinking Water Strategies for Preppers

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Jay Morgan. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today. DRINKING WATER – BACKGROUND: How to sterilize water? Simple: You don’t need […]

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Back to Basics: How to Stockpile Food for Emergencies

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Written by Pat Henry on The Prepper Journal.

Last week I began a new series called, Back to Basics. As I said in my first article: “Why and How to Stockpile Water for Emergencies”, this may be familiar ground for a lot of you but to some this information may be new. The Prepper Journal had almost 4 million page views last year […]

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Back to Basics: Why and How to Stockpile Water for Emergencies

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Written by Pat Henry on The Prepper Journal.

I wanted to start a new series on the Prepper Journal called “Back to Basics”. I know many of the readers of this blog are already well along their own journey of preparedness so some of the content might be remedial. It has certainly been covered on our site before, but there are new readers […]

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Prepping for Disaster with Kids

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Written by Benjamin Burns on The Prepper Journal.

4/5 (1) Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Benjamin Burns. Benjamin talks about a subject so many of us have to consider. As my children get older and more self-sufficient my worries evolve as their needs and capabilities change, but prepping for disaster has to take everyone into […]

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Creating an At-Work Emergency Bag

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Mike Turner. Be ready for your workday. Like many other preppers all over the world I find myself in daily situations where I feel less than fully prepared. While you can never be ready for everything, and yes this includes when you […]

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Ultralight Get Home Bag List

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Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

4.67/5 (3) Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from John Ferry. Each of us has responsibilities and they all come in different sizes. In times of crisis or emergency, many of us won’t be at home. We will be working or traveling away so the Get Home Bag concept […]

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How to Siphon Gas from a Car

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Written by Pat Henry on The Prepper Journal.

Have you ever run out of gas? Imagine running out of gas when gas stations are no longer pumping fuel or you are on route to your bug out location after some really bad stuff has gone down. You aren’t able to call AAA anymore and your buddy probably can’t come pick you up. You […]

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