Practice What You Preach

At the end of last month’s article, I mentioned that I recently experienced the “joys” of purchasing the wrong piece of equipment (again). Hopefully, it encouraged you to take a closer look at improving your knowledge concerning the goods and gadgets that you have.

Do you think you know how to use your prepper tools? You might want to practice using them before you actually need them. (Knowing “how” to use them is not the same as actually using them.) If you have food from a particular food storage company, taste it. If you have a particular water filter, prime it and practice using it. For instance, if you have a flint fire starter but “can’t use it to save your life,” then most likely you won’t be able to use it to actually save your life.

Practice is not limited simply to goods and gadgets either; it is also about expectations versus reality. For instance, have you ever actually lived without power for 48 hours? Have you ever walked down to the lake and brought back five gallons of water? Have you ever tried to strike a match when you’re shaking from the cold? You may find you are prepared physically for such moments, but not prepared mentally. Spending two days without power in August can be extremely draining. Carrying five gallons of water up a hill for a quarter mile might take two hours instead of 10 minutes.

The point is: Practice with the products you buy. Practice for the possible scenarios you suspect will occur. Practice with those with whom you plan on preparing. Figure out where the “holes” are in your plans. Discover better techniques for bugging out in 10 minutes or less. Effective practice will develop a confidence that you truly are prepared for what may come.

For free checklists that can help you get prepared in the first place, click here.

Bug-Out Blunders

Perhaps the most daunting aspect of living the preparedness lifestyle is that there is so much to learn. Pick any subject, and it seems that there are endless “experts” to listen to and hundreds of products to choose from. Once you’ve done your research and purchase your products, you’ll inevitably find someone else whose research landed on different products for different reasons.

As the executive director of Category Five, I am regularly asked questions about what piece of gear I recommend for this or what product I recommend for that; and it always makes me think about my own closets where I have an ever-growing collection of “junk” tools (and even more half-built projects sitting in my garage). Most of these blunders were from my early days of prepping when I thought that all I really needed was a bunch of cool gear and I would be ready for the big crash. Then, after learning more about prepping and practicing with the tools I had, I quickly began to learn that knowledge is infinitely more important than gadgets. Additionally, knowledge greatly improves to efficiency of your gadgets and saves you a lot of money spent on inferior or needless products.

Therefore, as you learn about preparedness from websites like Personal Liberty and Category Five or other resources available to you (such as the Category Five Preparedness Guide), just remember that all the goods and gadgets in the world will do you no good if you don’t know how to use them or for what practical purpose you bought them. For this reason, Category Five is constantly researching and reviewing products and strategies that are brought to our attention, as our aim is to save you time and money by sorting through the “junk” and finding the best available tools. Nonetheless, we suggest that you educate yourself as much as possible before purchasing anything. Whether you purchase what we suggest, if you don’t know how to use what you buy, you are guaranteed to be unprepared in an area where you thought you were.

Don’t believe me? I recently practiced winter survival with some prepper friends of mine in negative-degree weather. I went to pull out my new bug-out tent and found that I had purchased the wrong model number for my winter bug-out kit. What I had in my bag was the summer tent with little more than bug netting as my shield to the wind and cold. Thankfully, my other gear was high-enough quality to compensate, and one of my friends had a large-enough tent for both of us. Still, it was a very disappointing reminder that buying a piece of gear and sticking in your closet can come back to haunt you if you never take the time to learn how to use it.

Preppers Should Look At The Bigger Picture

Have you ever tried to encourage someone you know to prepare, only to have them look at you like you have three heads? Or have you started your preparedness journey and only found a sense of guilt about not moving as quickly as you’d like? Or my personal favorite: Do you have family members who joke about not needing to prepare because they have got you to lean on?

All of these scenarios are simply a result of one of the eight major mindsets regarding how one should address the need for preparation. If you can properly identify your own mindset and the mindsets of those around you, you can then make a concerted effort toward improving your mindset and strategizing around the personalities and approaches of those in your sphere of influence. While none of this information is rocket science or special insight, it is helpful to take a look at the bigger picture of the community you are preparing in so that you can accurately make your plans.

Here are the eight mindsets I’m talking about and what you can do about them.

Ignore It

Everyone knows someone with this mindset. You try to talk to your friends and family, and they don’t want to hear it. They seemingly recognize the signs of the times, but for whatever reason they have decided to stick their heads in the sand and ignore it. For these people there doesn’t seem to be any immediate solution to “wake them up” beyond time and circumstances. As disasters continue to unfold in the world around them, they may eventually hit that same “ah-ha moment” that you did at one point. Outside of the hope that time may change things, the best thing you can do for them is continue to draw their attention to what’s coming without pushing a preparedness agenda. As the saying goes, “You catch more flies with honey.”

Deny It

This type of individual is getting harder and harder to find, yet there are people out there who don’t see any storm brewing. If you have been trying to convince someone like this that he needs to prepare, we would encourage you to simply move on with your personal preparedness while keeping in mind that these same people will look to you for help when an emergency strikes. This is one of the major reasons for the necessity of community and the existence of organizations like Category Five and Personal Liberty. There will be many ill-equipped families in your life that could use your leadership someday, and perhaps what you learn here will be the very thing that ends up saving their lives.

Moochers And Thieves

While the intent of these types of individuals may be different, their motivation is the same. These are those you meet who laugh it off and then joke about “just coming to your house” or “just gotta be the first one to the grocery store” if something goes wrong. Unfortunately, this is a large segment of the world’s population today as we have a society conditioned to live on handouts and entitlements. It seems that every time a disaster strikes somewhere, a large number of people begin looting, stealing and rioting. Preparing for this type of scenario is an entirely separate subject; but for now just recognize that this dangerous mindset is out there, especially in urban locations. If you have people in your life who fit this mindset, stop telling them about your preparedness and prepare for the fact that they will show up at your door when the time comes.

Bottle Rockets

These are those you know who were convinced in one short conversation that the world is ending and immediately went out and bought gold, bullets and a case of bottled water. However, after the first 12 hours of “freaking out,” they then moved on to the next exciting thing; they never bought a gun for their bullets, much less prepared for a long-lasting crisis. If you know this type of person, you can help him by equipping him with quality preparedness guidance (i.e., the Category Five Preparedness Guide) as well as using this as a prime opportunity for you to begin leading others as you prepare yourself. These tend to be sanguine (bubbly) individuals; so, from a personality standpoint, you will want to keep things upbeat and exciting. If you can learn how to have fun in your preparedness, others will be more apt to listen.

Turtles

Slow and steady wins the race. This may actually be you; if it is, congratulations for beginning your preparedness journey. Nonetheless, while this mindset is viable, it is not the best approach to preparedness as a whole as it can lead to being only half prepared when a crisis hits since you spent time and money elsewhere. Additionally, you may be only half prepared because much of your food has expired by the time you rotate it. Whatever the result, if the “slow and steady wins the race” approach is taken, just make sure it’s not too slow or too steady.

Stockpilers

Without mentioning names, there are organizations out there right now using fear and panic to sell their goods; and in doing so, they are encouraging people to hoard as much as they can before it’s too late. While stockpiling is part of the preparedness lifestyle, it cannot be the primary solution. For one, the primary difference between hoarding and preparing is when you are doing your stockpiling. In my opinion, if you are building your storage ahead of a crisis, then you are not “hoarding.” Hoarding is applicable only to those who stockpile in the midst of a crisis. This is a significant difference in the motivation and operation of stockpiling.

Addressing the healthy side of stockpiling, the limitations of this mindset really come down to the length of time that you find yourself in “crisis mode.” Unless you have extensive financial and storage capabilities, stockpiling can provide only enough food and water for a few months at best. For this reason, it is necessary to start considering long-term solutions for your preparedness plan while stocking up on particular items that provide a foundational basis from which to work from.

Lone Wolves

In many ways, another name for this mindset is the “survivalist” mindset. Lone wolves are those who enjoy the wilderness and survival lifestyle and have convinced themselves that they can make it on their own if necessary. While this mindset is great for those who live in (or bug out to) extremely remote areas or those who might go down in a plane crash in Siberia, this mindset ultimately falls short of accounting for the reality that other people will be present. Whether better security is needed because of others or because friends and family will need help, the lone wolf mindset is a good place to start, but is not the type of mindset that is practical in 99 percent of real-life emergencies.

Preppers

This mindset may not be suited for everyone, but I believe this is the ultimate goal of anyone who truly wants to be prepared for an inevitable crisis. This mindset goes beyond buying a bunch of stuff and learning how to grow a garden. Granted, in order to become a prepper, both of these are necessary. But changes in your lifestyle will need to be made in order to bring preparedness to the forefront of your decision-making paradigm. Rotating food, storing gray water and building emergency kits are just a few of the changes that make this mindset necessary to live the preparedness lifestyle. Not just getting prepared for “someday,” but preparing on a continual basis. Once you have this mindset, you will find yourself free from the fear of disaster. More importantly, you will be able to lead others in their time of need.

Understanding the different preparedness mindsets will help you to focus your efforts on the type of preparedness plan that is right for you, given that possible disasters and crisis situations range anywhere from residential power outages to hurricanes to disease epidemics to a global economic meltdown and even another world war. Those who primarily consider the potential for a regional crisis (i.e., Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, the Japan earthquake, forest fires) are more likely to have a bottle rocket, turtle or stockpile mindset. On the other hand, those who see the possibility of a long-lasting global crisis (i.e., the Great Depression, world wars, an epidemic) are more apt to have a lone wolf or prepper mindset.

Regardless of your mindset or your opinion as to what might actually happen in the future, I have always found it helpful to understand the bigger picture as other people see it. Once I have an idea as to where they stand, I can make my plans accordingly (not to mention having a better idea about where I myself stand). Now, the only thing left to do is educate yourself about the hundreds of other things you need to do that match your plans.

–Austin Fletcher

Find, Join Like-Minded Preppers

Being a lone wolf of preparedness may make you a very capable individual who has the knowledge to survive a potential crisis in the wilderness, but this mindset does not account for 99 percent of the situations that involve living in social context.

While the lone wolves might be ready to disappear into the woods and take on nature, they may not actually be able to survive the darker sides of a chaotic society in a likely crisis situation. For this reason, even though becoming a true “survivalist” is a great goal to shoot for, it is imperative to join like-minded preppers in your area if you want to be ready to deal with the fact that there are other people in our society who will affect your life in a time of crisis.

It is essential to develop a team for all aspects of your preparedness, especially for the security portions of your plan. The adages “two heads are better than one” and “there is safety in numbers” couldn’t be truer than when addressing the subjects of both preparedness and security. Whether it’s planning, sharing of responsibilities, leadership, safety in numbers or the actual use of force, teamwork will greatly increase your ability to implement and protect what you’ve been working on.

A downside of teamwork, conversely, is being able to trust everyone’s cooperation with the agreed-upon rules of privacy. Another old adage is true: “Lose lips sink ships.” The larger your team, the greater the risk will be for too much information being shared about your preparations.

The moral of the story is: Coordinate a team as soon as possible, but chose wisely with whom you want to ride out the storm.

The following lists just a few benefits of preparing in the context of Teamwork:

  • Safety in numbers.
  • Many hands make light work.
  • Variety of gifts and skills.
  • Friendship and fun.
  • Sharing goods/gadgets (save money).
  • Encouragement.
  • Financial assistance and security.
  • Reduced learning curve.
  • Rest available for the weary and injured.
  • Leadership structure.
  • Avoids over-focusing on pet projects.
  • Accountability.

For these reasons, the five categories of preparedness (water, food, shelter, power and security) are centered on the need for community. No matter how much money, knowledge or time you have, if you are trying to prepare on your own, you will miss something.

Create A Three-Month Preparedness Plan

While three months’ worth of preparedness may seem like a long time, history confirms that it takes a combination of only a few emergencies for things like power, water and health services to be overloaded and run-down for weeks on end.

For instance, New Orleans is still being rebuilt years later, and Japan was still cleaning up their nuclear meltdown more than six months after the tsunami. Should a severe snowstorm or forest fire cut you off from the grid, it certainly has the potential to last longer than a week. Thus, as you progress in your preparedness lifestyle, you will want to move beyond a short-term plan.

Given that many crisis situations last longer than one week but less than three months, when looking at the most likely possibilities, we at Category Five have concluded that a three-month preparedness plan is the most economical and logistically feasible preparedness plan, yet it still accounts for some of the longer-term emergencies you may face.

Look at what the Northeast is experiencing with Sandy, and you’ll see that one week of supplies may not be enough. More than a week after the storm, getting gas for your car was still difficult and thousands of people still had no power.

When Hurricane Katrina and the Japan earthquake hit, people were YOYO (You’re On Your Own) for close to a month.

If a series of emergencies produced a cascading domino effect, then it may be closer to three months before sufficient “normalcy” is re-established. Thus, we encourage everyone to ultimately shoot for having at least a three-month preparedness plan in place. Category Five has developed the following checklist to build upon our one-week checklist.

Category 1: Water

□   Purchase more water (as much as you can fit and afford)

□   Consider purchase of long-term water storage containers

□   Purchase a water filter for sourcing surface water

□   Determine closest water source and quality

Category 2: Food

□   Purchase food storage (account for water cooking requirements and special medical needs)

□   Solidify food-sourcing capabilities (gardening, hunting, fishing, neighbor’s orchard, local farms, etc.)

□   Account for rationing in your food purchases

Category 3: Shelter

□   Implement serious upgrades to your shelter (well, garden, extra storage, energy efficiency, backup power, etc.)

□   Get more flashlights, candles, batteries, matches, etc.

□   Purchase more survival items (blankets, sleeping bags, camping toilet, firewood, work gloves, propane tank, etc.)

□   Account for potential season changes (extra wood stored for heat or extra water for extreme heat)

Category 4: Power

□   Get more “spare” cash from bank (small bills)

□   Consider alternative energy sources (create system redundancy)

□   Purchase extra tools (gloves, batteries, etc.)

□   Account for fatigue (purchase board games, books, a Bible, etc.)

□   Increase your knowledge and experience (practicing what you preach)

Category 5: Security

□   Defensive security (firearms, ammunition, mace, Tazer, dog, etc.)

□   Purchase more medical supplies (emergency kit, bandages, pain meds, sun lotion, sleep aids, hand sanitizer, etc.)

□   Account for special needs within your family (diabetes, asthma, etc.)

□   Account for the social dynamics that will change with a three-month crisis (migrations from cities to rural areas, family and friends crowding your door, martial law, etc.)

□   Keep your plans private

□   Build a leadership team

Note: During the three-month planning phase, you will find yourself thinking differently about preparedness. It will no longer be just something that you purchase and set in the back of a closet. It will become part of your daily thinking and planning. It truly will start to become a lifestyle: a preparedness lifestyle.

For more free checklists and information, please visit www.CategoryFive.org.

–Austin Fletcher

Prepare To Be On Your Own For Seven Days

While the government recommended level of preparedness is currently three days, history tells us that people should really expect to be YOYO (You’re On Your Own) for about seven days.

After a major disaster like the earthquake in Japan or Hurricane Katrina, it takes about three to four days for first responders to get through the rubble and chaos. Then it takes another couple of days for them to deal with high-level emergencies such as those who are dying, rioters, nuclear meltdowns and the like. By the time government and nonprofit organizations can get to the basic needs of you and your family, you will likely find that you have been YOYO for almost a week.

Given that your personal plans will be filtered through your specific geographic location and the type of crisis you believe is most likely to come your way, you will want to tweak the following list to suit your needs. With the foundation of knowing how to prepare at the last minute (Prepping In A Pinch) when you know a crisis is coming, let’s address your next level of preparation when you don’t know if a crisis may ever occur. This now moves you into actual preparedness. While there is some overlap with your last-minute preparations, the overlap is intentional so as to create system redundancy. As such, the following Category Five checklist is what we recommend for you and your family to arrange for in advance for one week’s worth of preparation.

Category 1: Water

□    Purchase water (recommend 1 to 2 gallons per day per person)

□    Fill repurposed containers and store them where available

□    Purchase a water filter for sourcing surface water

□    Determine closest water source and quality

Category 2: Food

□    Purchase food storage or begin food storage rotation

□    Account for water cooking requirements and special medical needs

□    Consider food sourcing capabilities (hunting, fishing, neighbor’s orchard, local farms, etc.)

Category 3: Shelter

□    Outfit emergency kits (Quick Reference Guides available at www.CategoryFive.org)

□    Purchase flashlights, candles, batteries, matches, other sources of light

□    Purchase other survival items (blankets, sleeping bags, camping toilet, firewood, work gloves, propane tank, etc.)

Category 4: Power

□    Get “spare” cash from bank (small bills)

□    Consider purchase of generator and fuel storage

□    Purchase two-way radios

□    Increase your knowledge base (survival books, Category Five Preparedness Guide, etc.)

Category 5: Security

□    Defensive security (firearms, ammunition, mace, Taser, dog, etc.)

□    Purchase medical supplies (emergency kit, bandages, pain medications, sun lotion, sleep aids, hand sanitizer, etc.)

□    Account for special needs within your family (diabetes, asthma, etc.)

□    Copy important documents (see Copy, Keep, Carry Documents)

□    Establish emergency plans with your family

□    Give document copies to external family

For more free checklists and information, visit www.CategoryFive.org.

Prepping In A Pinch

If you are truly prepared and have nothing else that needs to be done, then this post may not hold much advice for you. However, if you are like most people who could always use a little bit more time and motivation to be better prepared, this information could be exactly what you’re looking for as something you can “set aside” until you need it.

Let’s pretend that as you are reading this the global markets are collapsing, a hurricane is coming your way, or NASA just informed the world that a sunspot is about to shut down the power grid for months (or a combination thereof).

What do you do?

For starters, communicate with your family and make sure you are all together. Second, go to the store, hopefully before everyone else gets there, and purchase what you can from the items listed below. At this point you cannot be too concerned with how much something might cost or how much you have left in savings at the end of your shopping spree. (Depending on the crisis that is developing you may not have a savings that is worth anything by the time it is over anyway.) Finally, while you are at the store, leave someone in charge at the house to start performing the other last minute tasks on this list.

Category 1: Water

□ Purchase drinking water (recommend 1 gallon per day / per person)

□ Don’t forget cooking water (1-2 gallons per day)

□ Fill containers around house for hygiene water (brushing teeth, sponge baths)

□ Consider purchasing a water filter for sourcing surface water

Category 2: Food

□ Purchase ready-to-eat food “essentials”

  • Canned – fruits, vegetables, meats, soups, chili, etc.
  • Dried – cereals, nuts, crackers, jerky, meal bars, etc.
  • Fresh – fruit, bread, vegetables, other room temperature items

□ Purchase ready-to-eat food “wants”

  • Food – candy, cookies, chips, other room temperature items
  • Liquid – soda, alcohol, juice, other room temperature items

□ Consider food sourcing capabilities and prepare accordingly (hunting, fishing, neighbor’s orchard, local farms, etc.)

Category 3: Shelter

□ Weatherize property

  • Bring in outside belongings
  • Prepare property for corresponding event (wind, water, fire)

□ Finish outfitting bug-out-bag (BOB) (See Category Five’s BOB Quick Reference Guide at CategoryFive.org)

□ Set out BEST survival outfit to change into when needed

□ Purchase flashlights, candles, batteries, matches, other sources of light and heat

□ Purchase other survival items (blankets, sleeping bags, camping toilet, firewood, work gloves, propane tank, etc.)

Category 4: Power

□ Get “spare” cash from bank (small bills)

□ Consider purchase of generator

□ Fill gas cans for back up fuel

□ Fill vehicle tanks

□ Purchase 2-way radios

□ Purchase additional guidance (survival books, field medical book)

Category 5: Security

□ Defensive security (firearms, ammunition, mace, tazer, dog, etc.)

□ Purchase medical supplies (Check out CategoryFive.org for a FREE checklist of recommended medical supplies.)

□ Account for special needs within your family (diabetes, asthma, etc.)

□ Copy important documents (See last month’s post or check out CategoryFive.org for a FREE Document Checklist)

□ Establish emergency plans with your family

□ Give document copies to external family

Clearly, being “prepared” means that you already have all of these things taken care of BEFORE you need them. Nonetheless, even the most prepared individuals will need reminders and guidance when the world starts falling apart around them. For more FREE information and checklists visit www.CategoryFive.org.

Copy, Keep, Carry Documents

Whether you’re bugging out with your bug-out bag or staying put with a well-thought-out, self-sufficient homestead plan, make sure you always have quick and easy access to the important documents in your life. Make at least two copies of the originals, and store them in different locations where they can be grabbed at a moment’s notice. It’s important to update these records often. Outdated information will help no one.

In the case of an emergency there are countless scenarios wherein you will need documents to prove that you are who you say you are and your claims are true and accurate. This is especially true when children are involved. If you can’t prove that you are their parent, today’s State and Federal security laws prohibit schools from releasing them to you, and medical facilities will not treat them. With that said, the following is a list of suggested documents to copy and keep together in one place for access upon a moment’s notice.

Personal identification copies for each individual’s packet

  • Driver’s license (original if possible)
  • Birth certificate (certified copy)
  • Passport (original if possible)
  • Social Security card (certified copy or original)
  • Other Government Issue ID Card (Federal employees, professional ID)

Family identification copies for all family members’ packets

  • Photo ID for all family members (driver’s license, school ID, Kidsafe ID)
  • Individual photo of each family member (up to date)
  • Family photo (clear enough to identify each member)
  • Pet identification (registration, photo with family member, vet records)

Important documents for adult family member’s packets

  • Health records for all family members (blood type, allergies, general medical history, doctor’s notes, special needs, closest family member contact info, donor/consent forms, etc.)
  • Insurance documents (home, car, health, life, etc.) showing account Info
  • Bank account statement (showing routing/account numbers)
  • Certified title copies (home, car, boat, etc.)
  • Credit/debit card copies
  • Personal bank checks
  • Retirement/Investment account statements (showing account numbers)
  • Other financial details (certified copy of will, parent’s will, taxes, etc.)
  • Marriage certificate, divorce decrees or legal guardian proof

Important documents for each individual’s packet

  • Individual health records (see list above)
  • Hard copy of important contacts (parents, siblings, friends, school, etc.)
  • Cash (small Bills for making change, amount varies per person, at least $40)
  • Pre-paid phone card (at least $10)

Give document copies to external family

One last tip: If you plan to place one set of documents in your bug-out bag, make sure it is in a waterproof container and don’t lose them.

–Austin Fletcher

Product Selection Guidelines For Preppers

When, in the course of “human events,” it becomes evident that the “junk” has hit the fan, your medical, bug-out, vehicle and home kits need to work well and last through whatever life may throw at you.

The process of weeding out the “fluff” to get down to the meat and bones of a good product you can bet your life on (and your family’s lives) can be annoying at best and detrimental to your survival at worst. In an effort to show you some basic solutions to the challenge of selecting such important components of preparedness kits, Category Five has developed these helpful guidelines.

Length, Width, Height: Start With The Basics

Making sure you have room for items in your home, vehicle or bug-out bag will save you both time and money. You would be surprised how many of your “favorite” bug-out tools won’t actually fit into your bug-out bag. You may spend a lot of time making sure you’ve considered every other guideline (below), but if it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t ship.

Capacity: How Much Can It Hold?

Make sure it can contain what you want to put into it (or carry on it) as well as ensuring that the capacity measures up to your specific needs.

Adults need more water than kids do; men need more food than women do. Not carrying enough of something is almost as useless as not carrying it at all.

Weight: A Much-Underestimated Category

This can make or break every step of a journey. Make sure an item is necessary. If not, leave it behind.

Construction: Because They Truly Do Not Make Things Like They Used To

Take your time to research the quality of what you’re purchasing. Customer reviews of just about any product can be found online. Pay attention to what customers are saying, but be aware of false reviews and fake review sites that are nothing but marketing engines for the product manufacturers.

Price: A Deterrent For Many People To Preparing In The First Place

Hand in hand with quality construction, you often get what you pay for.

There may be some amazing deals where there is a world of difference between two products of the same price, yet don’t fool yourself into thinking you can build a great kit for $20. Spend twice as much up front for something that will last, or buy four of the same thing over and over because they keep breaking. In the end, spending more can save you money.

Shelf Life: Father Time Is Not Always On Your Side

A cousin to quality construction, shelf life is specifically reserved for perishable items (i.e., food, medicine, chemicals). The bottom line: Make sure it will be around when you need it. Have a plan that accounts for rotation. If possible, spend more for a better product like freeze-dried versus dehydrated foods.

Value: What Is Included?

With so many preparedness retailers available, you can often get a great package deal. However, don’t neglect the other guidelines and allow yourself to get sold a package of junk. Are you getting the best bang for your buck or double the trouble?

Utility: Does It Multitask For You?

As Alton Brown from the Food Network would say: “No unitaskers!” Always purchase something that can be used for things other than what you bought it for. Multitasking helps with system redundancy as well as weight reduction.

Check out www.CategoryFive.org for some great videos and ideas, or simply surf the Internet to help get your creative juices flowing.

Having these basic questions answered at checkout will help ensure you do not have buyer’s remorse and will give you peace of mind that you have a quality product you can depend on when you need it most.

–Christopher Teasdale and Austin Fletcher

Prepare To Bug Out

While many people romanticize the idea of social unrest or martial law as motivations for “bugging out,” the more likely event is that something like Hurricane Katrina or a forest fire will be your stimulus for actually leaving your home behind and hitting the road with your bug out bag (BOB). If you classify yourself as a “prepper,” then you may already have your BOB packed. However, you may not know that system redundancy is just as important in building your bag as it is in every other aspect of prepping.

When building your BOB, make sure you have particular items in multiple pockets and pouches, as well as retaining multiple versions of the same functionality. For example, instead of having one lighter in your front pocket and that’s it, make sure you also carry some waterproof matches in your medical kit, a ferrocerium rod and steel striker in your waterproof clothing bag, and a road flare in the side pocket of your bag. That way, if anything happens to any piece of equipment you have (i.e., submerged in water, stolen, dropped along the way), you will have diversified your reliance on any single part of your bag.

Obviously, you can’t create redundancy with every item in your BOB, but you certainly will want to make this a priority with the most important tools for your survival. Namely, the top five C’s of survival:

  • Containers: primarily for water (preferably something you can bring to a boil)
  • Cordage: shelter, medical, trapping, fishing and more
  • Cutting implement: too many uses to count
  • Combustion: fire (food, warmth, light and security)
  • Covering: should be waterproof

Creating system redundancy in these five main areas of survival will give you a much better chance of thriving in a true bug out situation.

In the event you ever really have to bug out, don’t forget to duplicate each of these items on your person as well. Developing your bug out outfit to include a survival belt made of paracord, a boot knife, a Zippo lighter, a stainless steel water bottle (not double walled) and a waterproof jacket will ensure that you will never be without these items, even if you completely lose your BOB. You don’t have to wear these items every day (although some are recommended), but try to at least set them aside with your BOB in the event you need to get dressed and go.

–Austin Fletcher