It was love at first sight…a travel-friendly SAFE, securely fastened the back of a beach lounge chair. Several times a year, I find myself in a situation where I want to go swimming whether at a lake, on a cruise, snorkeling in a foreign country, or a hot spring […]
My headlights showed that no one had closed the pop door on the coop even though the sunlight had vanished a half hour prior. I had just returned from picking up pizzas for supper and noticed a hen sitting outside in the snow.
Putting the van in park, I glanced at the coop again. There he was — an opossum standing just inside the building. I honked the horn to warn the other hens. The pop door seemed as if it were exploding as my hens flew out and scattered. Some ran for the safety of the back steps to the house, a few scurried into the garage, and one flew up to the roof to roost. Fortunately, all of my hens returned to the coop unharmed. On this night, pizza saved my flock, but by utilizing a few tips, I hope to prevent this from ever happening again.
Predators are a fact of life on the homestead. Raccoons, opossums, weasels, foxes and snakes are common threats to any chicken coop. In addition to these ground-level predators, air attacks from hawks and owls occur in some rural areas. Of course, completely eliminating the threat to hens is impossible, but managing the threat is doable.
Here are a few tips to tighten the security of your coop and increase the level of safety enjoyed by your flock.
1. Install an automatic pop door
A sliding pop door is a DIY project that can be made with the help of an electric motor and timer, or it can be purchased and installed rather easily. Using a timer to regulate the door opening and closing can be tricky if your birds free-range, as the length of each day changes dramatically and a bird closed out of the coop certainly will draw predators. If constructing your own door, including a bottom rail will hinder some types of predators from lifting the door and helping themselves to your flock.
2. Upgrade your locks
A few predators, raccoons in particular, are skilled at opening doors and lifting latches. This could pose a problem for the inhabitants of your coop. Upgrade the latches and locks on your coop by including multistep latches and even padlocks to deter the most-skilled predators.
3. Replace chicken wire
Chicken wire is fine for some projects, but it is not the best option for protecting your flock. Replace the chicken wire in windows, screen doors and the run with hardware cloth. This cloth is a sturdy mesh that allows air to flow through easily while making it difficult for predators to tear. It also can be used as a covering for a run to deter hawks and owls from sampling your chickens.
4. Bury the fencing
Bury at least 12 inches of fencing below the surface to prevent burrowing animals from entering the run, but do it with the proper materials.
Uncoated metal, such as chicken wire, deteriorates quickly. When burying fencing for a chicken run, or as a protective measure around the coop, use coated metal below the surface. Chicken wire can deteriorate in as little as three years when exposed to the constant moisture typically found in the soil.
5. Keep it clean
Cleaning the coop is certainly necessary to maintain healthy chickens, but keeping the area surrounding the coop clean is just as important to their safety. At dusk, remove uneaten food and treats from the run and coop. This will discourage predators looking for an easy meal — and rodents that can spread disease — from entering the coop. Remove tall grasses, vines and other debris from around the coop, as well. Predators will be less inclined to stroll out to the coop when they will be in full view.
6. Perform regular maintenance
Small creatures, such as weasels, snakes and young opossums, can squeeze through very small holes. Replace worn or rotten boards promptly, including floor boards. Also, take care that the seams are properly fitted together, using a sealant to ensure there are no gaps for predators to slide through. Mend or replace fencing or hardware cloth that has been damaged.
How do you keep predators out of your flock? Share your tips in the section below:
Posted Sept. 22, 2016
CHARLOTTE — As the situation in Charlotte continues to escalate, one fact is certain: Wherever there is a high population area, you’re going to have a high chance of people not getting along. In this case, there have been dozens of arrests, accompanied by a taxpayer-paid visit from the National Guard. Protesters even tried to throw a photographer into a fire.
Whether the issue stems from race, politics or economic status, there will be times when tensions in cities reach a critical boiling point — and it’s during such times when the average, peace-loving folks like us should take measures to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
Here are three tips:
No. 1 – Avoid flashpoints.
When certain densely populated areas become a cauldron of human rage and anarchy, that’s when “groupthink” begins to take over. Groupthink is the loss of reasoning in individuals – when they adopt the mentality of the crowd that they’re a part of. As the psychology website alleydog.com explains:
A good way to define this term is to tell you how Irving Janus (the main researcher on this topic) describes it. Janus (1972) said that groupthink is “a deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment that results from in-group pressures.”
This is one reason why it’s absolutely crucial for individuals to take cover and stay out of sight for the duration of the riot — especially during the hours that curfew is in effect. Obviously, you’ll want to keep away from downtown areas, but also, it’s best not to come within blocks of businesses, either.
You’ll know where the rioting has reached a fever pitch wherever there is looting, as this is an invaluable indication of where law and order has been temporarily overturned; places where consumer goods are concentrated tend to be magnets for looting. Also, it’s best to keep away from places that sell alcohol, because A), this is probably not the best time to be attending happy hour, and, B), alcohol will attract and enable the dreaded groupthink amoeba.
No. 2 — Gather your valuables and necessities.
If you currently live within blocks of the rioting, then you’ll want to consolidate, hide and protect your valuables and necessities. It’s really anyone’s guess as to what the groupthinkers are going to do and where the riot virus will spread, which means that it’s best to prepare for the worst BEFORE the anarcho-festivities engulf a street near you.
With that said, you should make sure that your home is on lockdown, your windows are shut, and any entrances to your residence are secured. Draw the curtains (or even board up the windows if you have the time), so that any peaking inside your residence from the outside is impossible. Next, let’s suppose that groupthinkers will breach …
You should then secure your valuables (jewelry, most of your loose cash, checkbooks, most identification and important paperwork, most of your medications, and expensive electronics. I’ll soon explain why I emphasized the word “most”) by getting them in a safe or lockbox. However, whether you have a lockable compartment or not, you’ll want to get these valuables out of sight to a place that cannot be quickly identified.
This might also be a great time to install a camera inside your home which covers the entry points to your residence.
No. 3 — Prepare to escape.
Now that your valuables are secured, you should start getting your bugout gear together (if that’s not already done). While I’m not necessarily going to discuss what should be in your 72-hour pack, I will say this: Do you remember how I emphasized the word “most” in the last pointer? Well, you’ll also want to gather enough cash, paperwork and IDs, and medications that will get you by for a few days in the event that you have to leave. Also, make sure you grab some water and food, just in case you end up in the nightmare scenario of getting trapped for a length of time.
Once you’re feeling fairly confident that you could have your group evacuated within roughly 2-5 minutes, then it’s time to ask yourself an honest question: At what point should you actually leave?
Once you’ve put your bugout trigger in place, then you’re not going to deal with the mental conflict of the old “should I stay or should I go” syndrome. This also will keep arguments among your own small group at bay, especially if everyone agrees on the trigger in advance. The point is simple — limiting confusion is crucial in these scenarios.
What NOT to Do
Ok, this part is extremely important, so read closely …
DO NOT put on your tactical gear, and if you’re carrying a weapon of any kind, make sure that it’s well concealed. Not only will your tactical vest attract the attention of the groupthinkers (because it could make you look like law enforcement, which is bad), but this is also going to attract the attention of the authorities (because they might think you’re impersonating law enforcement, which could be worse).
During this scenario, the authorities are still in relative control, because they still possess superior firepower, communication and tactical organization in comparison to both the rioters and innocent folks.
So just be smart, keep a small profile, and you’ll be most likely be left alone.
What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:
According to the American Bar Association, about 55 percent of Americans die without a will – the essential document that protects your family from the legal complications and in-fighting that can follow a death.
But even a will may not encompass all the information you need to impart to your family. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork used to track your existence. Even as you move to a more self-sufficient lifestyle, a paper trail will follow you; it’s a feature of the modern age.
Don’t be the only member of your family who knows how to keep your home and lifestyle operating, your wishes in case of death, or where the family jewels are hidden. Prepare a spreadsheet with the following information, and store it in a fireproof safe or other secure location (making sure everyone knows where to find it).
1. Family identification. Document the location of the birth certificates and passports for all members of the family, as well as Social Security numbers, medical information, adoption records, marriage and death certificates, birth dates and legal names.
2. Contacts. Make a contact page for family members and close friends, legal professionals, insurance companies, financial advisors, and anyone else who has been responsible for maintaining your records.
3. Assets. Detail all assets, such as real estate, vehicles and valuable items. Be sure to list specific information as appropriate, such as serial numbers, Vehicle Identification Numbers and the location of deeds for property. Don’t forget to list financial assets, including bank accounts, investments, stocks and bonds.
4. Liabilities. Maintain updated records for loan information and amounts, credit cards, mortgage and personal lending. Be sure to include specific information about agreements as well as the location of documentation.
5. Insurance. Quick access to personal, medical and property insurance policy numbers can speed the company’s ability to provide you with the insurance payments needed to quickly bounce back in an emergency. Make sure you, your spouse, and your next of kin all know the location of and value on insurance policies.
6. Bills. After an emergency or death, bills for items and services purchased earlier will still be owed. Include the account numbers for utility companies, payment information as well as frequency of billing, and the details of any agreements. Contact numbers for billing companies can help your family stop unwanted services before becoming inundated with bills.
7. Emergency plan. Make an account of your family’s plans in case of emergency, upheaval or accident. Determine a meeting place and detail the location of emergency supplies. Make sure even the youngest children have been prepared to find shelter, basic supplies and the rest of the family so they will know how to react if things become chaotic, and practice relevant drills at least once per year.
8. Final arrangements. A will and living trust are necessary for helping your family make decisions in case of your death or incapacitation. All adult family members should have a legal will, as well as written instructions for any actions desired in case of death. This is particularly important in families with children or other dependents, in order to provide for their future and indicate who should be responsible for their safety. Be certain to discuss your plans and desires with close family members and entrust them with your wishes.
9. Homestead journal. Update regular seasonal logs about what you do to your property, how the homestead is made to be productive, plans for future development, and the location of needed equipment and supplies. Enter relevant information about livestock and pets, as well, including veterinary records, pedigrees and directives for ensuring their health. If you do not plan to have your next of kin run your homestead in the event of your death, a detailed plan about how to divide and liquidate assets should be included in your will.
There are many resources available online to help you prepare your “in case of emergency” document. The US Department of Health and Human Services provides a list as a jumping-off point.
Prepare and store the document digitally and in hard-copy, talk over your plans, and make sure everyone understands where to find the information. Providing your family with the tools to pick up the pieces in a worst-case scenario is a realistic approach to guaranteeing their continued prosperity and safety. Don’t leave them stranded.
What would you add to our list? Share your tips in the section below:
See larger image A Professional’s GuideTo Pyrotechnics: Understanding And Making Exploding Fireworks This book offers a well-rounded selection of reliable, well-researched formulas for the most popular exploding fireworks, including M80s, cherry bombs, ash cans, chasers, globe torpedoes, Knallkorpers, aerial bombs, cracker balls, Flashcrackas and more. For academic study only. List Price: $25.00 USD New From: $14.77 USD In Stock
Bottled Water-Is It Really Safe for Your Family?
Water is everywhere, right? It’s a natural resource. As a smart prepper you know that water is one of those basic necessities you need to have stockpiled when SHTF. The most convenient way to stockpile water for a lot of preppers, especially those who urban dwellers, planning to bug in, is to stockpile lots of bottled water. In fact, you may have already made the switch from municipal tap water to bottled water. But is bottled water actually safe for your family?
Sources of Bottled Water:
Regardless of the form in which it comes to you, all water originates in two places, ground water, such as aquifers or springs, or surface water such as lakes and streams. In fact, if you check your state water rights, you will find laws may be different for ground water than for surface water.
The EPA reports that over 90% of public water systems originate from ground water. And yet, over 60% of all people use water systems that rely on surface water. This is because in the densely populated large cities, public water systems tend to rely on surface water from lakes and streams, whereas in the more rural and less densely populated areas, ground water, aquifers or springs, is more likely to feed water systems.
So, no matter what water you use, it comes from two sources originally, either the ground or the surface. Tap water which is monitored by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Regardless of where it originates, bottled water is regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). This matters because EPA regulations are actually stricter than FDA guidelines as far as treatment and filtering procedures.
This means that your tap water could actually be safer for your family than the bottled water you are buying.
How to Tell Where My Bottled Water Comes From
Check with your State Department of Health to see if they maintain a list of certified bottling facilities. Some states, like New York, do keep a list on their website that is easily accessible. You can check brand name against the list of certified facilities. New York State also requires water bottling facilities to include their certification number right on the label. If the bottler is listed on the label, you can contact them and ask what their water source is.
Trying to identify whether that bottled water you are paying for is really just tap water, isn’t always easy. Check the label or even the bottle cap for the words from “a community water system” or “a municipal source”. If you see either of these, you are buying water that originally was “tap water”. If there is nothing on the label or cap, call the bottler directly or contact the health department in the state where the water was bottled for more information.
Potential Water Contaminants
Bottled water is generally considered relatively safe for you to drink, especially if you can determine that it was bottled by a state certified bottling facility. Because contamination is always possible, it is safer to boil water before drinking, especially if used for children, the elderly, or those with immune system deficiencies.
State inspected bottling facilities and their sources are checked regularly. If a problem is discovered during inspection, a recall will be issued. But it is possible a water source could be contaminated for several months prior to the next inspection. A Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) review over four years, found that most bottles tested were relatively contaminant free and high quality. Just over 20% of brands tested, did contain, in at least one bottle, chemical contaminants higher than state limits.
You are probably most familiar with contaminants such as phthalates, which have been said to leach from plastic bottles and containers, over time, into the water inside. It is worthwhile to note that there are currently no legal limits on phthalates in bottled water. Tap water, regulated by the EPA, does have a legal limit on phthalates. In that way, tap water is actually safer.
Parasites can find their way into water sources. One of the more common ones is Cryptosporidium or Crypto. This parasite is microscopic, it lives in the intestine of is host, and is shed in bowel movements. It can cause cryptosporidiosis, a diarrheal disease. There are a multitude of Crypto species, many of which infect animals. Humans are also susceptible to some of these. It can be found in food, soil, or contaminated surfaces, but recreational (pools and lakes) water and drinking water is one of the most common ways Crypto is spread.
Crypto symptoms begin within ten days of infection. The most common symptom is watery diarrhea but individuals may experience stomach pain or cramps, nausea or vomiting, fever, dehydration, and weight loss. Symptoms typically last a few days to two weeks in individuals with normal immune systems but can reoccur sporadically over thirty days. Medications may be necessary for those with weakened immune systems but most people recover without medical treatment.
To prevent reduce likelihood of Crypto infection, water should be heated at a full boil for a minimum of 1 minute at low altitude and for 3 full minutes at altitudes higher than 6,562 feet. Crypto can be removed using reverse osmosis filtering, an NSF International Standard certified filter for “cyst reduction” or “cyst removal”, or an “absolute one micron” filter.
Filtering doesn’t eliminate all bacteria and viruses. Filtered water must be boiled or distilled for safety. EPA guidelines are designed to filter Cryptosporidium from public water systems so again, tap water is less likely to be contaminated.
So, is bottled water safe for your family? All you can do is to know as much as possible about where your bottled water originated and how it was treated during the bottling process. Make a decision about whether it’s safe to drink. If necessary, use filtering and boiling or distillation combined to increase safety.
Everyone has valuables and keepsakes that they do not want to lose. While you may never have someone break into your house, it is still best to be prepared for everything. If you take these four home security steps, then your most precious possessions will remain safe no matter what happens at your home.
There is no better way to keep your precious possessions safe at home than with a secure, metal safe. If a burglar is able to get inside your house, then they will not be able to access anything you put inside the safe. Bolting the safe to the floor will ensure that they can’t take it to another location. They will move on to something else once they realize the safe is not going anywhere because burglars are looking to get in and out extremely quickly. Most home safes are fireproof too, which provides even more protection for your valuables.
Get a Dog
Nothing provides amazing and cheap home security quite like a dog. Most dogs will bark anytime they hear something abnormal going on in the home. This barking will alert you in a timely manner if you are asleep. If you are not home, then the barking will most likely keep the burglars from entering your home. Barking not only brings unwanted attention to the house, but they are also risking a dangerous bite by entering your home. Even if the dog is extremely friendly, the stranger entering your house does not know that.
The presence of an alarm system is usually enough to deter a burglar from entering your home. The loud alarm and the fast response of the local police department provided by an alarm system gives you a level of home security you can’t get with anything else. Reviews of alarm systems can help you learn more about security systems to protect your home and family. People tend to get relaxed after owning an alarm system, so you need to make sure to set the alarm each night to maintain your high level of home security.
Ample Outdoor Lighting
Dark homes are prime targets for burglars because they can get in and out without being detected by any of the neighbors. Keeping your yard well lit with some nice outdoor lighting is a great way to add style to your home while also adding an extra layer of security.
You never know when your home can be the target of a thief, so you want to have a decent amount of home security at all times. You work hard to get your precious possessions, so make sure you protect them using adequate home security measures.
Written by Rachelle Wilber
There’s many things that people miss when preparing for the unknown – be it a natural or man-made disaster. But one that always surprises me is when people forget to add a safe to their list.
Perhaps our oversight is due to thinking in the terms of major disasters, rather than personal ones. But even then, a safe has its place. If your home is destroyed by an earthquake or tornado, the items in your safe would probably survive. We can’t be so sure about the rest of your stockpile.
For you, a personal disaster can be as serious a problem as a regional or national one. Ignoring this fact could lead to unnecessary suffering for you and your family. Imagine, for example, that your home is lost to a fire. This likely will be as much a disaster for you as if a hurricane hits – perhaps even more so since a hurricane might just damage, not completely destroy your home.
Safes are rather robust structures, designed to be able to withstand a lot of abuse. In addition, most home safes are fireproof to a certain temperature or for a certain amount of time. So anything you store in a safe is likely to survive whatever happens, as long as you can still find the safe.
Home safes aren’t all that big, so you’re better off buying the largest one you can find. With a large part of the space taken up by the thickness of the walls, the interior is much smaller than the exterior. Once you start putting things in it, you’ll quickly discover how small it actually is.
So, what should you keep in your safe? While it would be nice to be able to put your entire prepping stockpile in there, that just isn’t going to happen. Instead, you’ll need to carefully select key items.
1. Important documents
Generally speaking, the most important thing to keep in your safe is the documentation that makes up the legal part of all of our lives. That documentation will be key part of being able to rebuild your life after many types of personal or community-wide disasters. In our modern world, if you don’t have the paperwork, it doesn’t matter if you own the item or not. Some documents you should store in your safe are:
- Home and property titles
- Vehicle titles
- Marriage license
- Birth certificates
- Copies of degrees and other awards
- Military discharge papers
- Insurance policies
More than anything, these documents are being stored in the safe to protect them from fire. If you have some other fireproof place in your home to save documents, you may want to move them there and keep the safe for other items.
2. Account numbers and access
Many people have multiple accounts in multiple places rather than just one bank account. If something happens to you, your family is going to need to know where those accounts are and how to get into them. A list of all account numbers that you have, along with access codes, bank names, and other key information needs to be in the safe.
Of course, for your family to be able to use this information, they’re going to need to be able to get into the safe. Make sure that they either have or can access the combination or are input into the biometric lock.
3. Contact information
With everyone using cell phones, nobody bothers memorizing phone numbers anymore. But in the wake of a crisis, it may be necessary to get in touch with a lot of key people in your life. What are you going to do if your phone is destroyed or lost in a crisis? Keeping a contact list in the safe ensures that you will always have this information, no matter what happens.
4. Computer backups
The best place to keep your computer back-ups is offsite somewhere. Many people keep theirs in the cloud now. But if you have to keep your data files onsite for some reason, the best place for them is in your safe. Copy the data on a removable hard drive and store it in the safe. That way, it’s protected from fire. Better yet, print it out.
This is especially important if you run a business out of your home. All your records are probably on your computer. Proper storage of your data is a critical part of maintaining your business.
It’s always a good idea to keep as much cash on-hand as possible. In the wake of a disaster when the power is out, the money you have in the bank is inaccessible. You will surely need money to buy things and make repairs to your home. Having cash allows you to start immediately, while everyone else is arguing with the bank to get access to their money.
6. Gold and silver
If you are investing in gold and silver – an excellent idea considering the state of the economy, in my opinion – then store it in your safe. That’s probably the safest place you can store it, and will ensure that your investment is available in a crisis scenario.
One nice thing about gold and silver in your safe is that even if dollars become worthless, these precious metals will likely retain their value. In fact, in such a situation their value might increase.
7. Handgun and ammo
Keeping a handgun in your safe spurs images of fighting off a robber that is forcing you to open up your safe. But that’s really not the reason that I’m recommending it. The main reason is to have at least one gun in your home, which is protected from damage. Ammunition and firearms can be damaged in a fire, leaving you suddenly unarmed and unable to protect yourself and what’s left of your home.
That one handgun in the safe will survive a fire or just about any other disaster. And you’ll have something you can use to protect yourself, your family and your belongings.
8. Survival kit
This one may sound a bit odd, as it is not considered an item of high value. But if you lose everything else, having a survival kit will give you the basics you need to get clean drinking water, start a fire and otherwise take care of yourself. This doesn’t need to be a huge kit, but make sure you at least have the basics. That way, you won’t have to scrounge around looking for them.
What would you add to this list? Share your tips in the section below: